In 2008, while holding down two full-time jobs -- freshman senator from Illinois and Democratic presidential candidate -- Barack Obama found time to whip out a children's book titled "Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to My Daughters," to be published next month, Politics Daily has learned.
On Tuesday, Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Random House Children's Books, will make an announcement about the book, which is a tribute to 13 Americans, including artist Georgia O'Keeffe, baseball legend Jackie Robinson, and George Washington.
Obama's daughters, Malia and Sasha, will be represented on the cover in an impressionistic image by children's illustrator Loren Long, who produced the portraits in the 40-page book. Light on text, the thin volume is intended to appeal to kids age 3 and up and will sell for $17.99. It's certainly expected by the publishing house to be a bestseller, with an initial printing of 500,000 copies.
"Of Thee I Sing" is part of a three-volume deal Obama signed in December 2004, just after he was elected senator but before he took office. When the deal was originally announced in 2004,
the kids' book was due in 2006, the profits were to go to charity and the original concept was for an illustrated volume about Obama's childhood as a "skinny young kid with big ears and funny name."
While the concept changed, proceeds will still go to charity -- a scholarship fund for military children with a parent who was killed or disabled -- but this publication fulfills Obama's obligation to turn in a children's book to his publisher. Obama got a $1.9 million advance in 2004 for the package, though the children's book was not part of the revenue stream. The advance enabled the Obamas to buy a mansion on the South Side of Chicago.
The original deal, negotiated by attorney Robert Barnett, came in the wake of the success of Obama's best-selling memoir, "Dreams From My Father." Obama finished "Audacity of Hope," his policy book (also a best seller) in 2006; his children's book in 2008 and the last book he owes his publisher will come out after Obama finishes his presidency. According to his 2010 financial disclosure report,
the deal was revised on Jan. 9, 2009, so the last book did not have to be delivered until he was out of office. On Jan. 15, 2009, days before he was inaugurated president, Obama got a $500,000 advance for a young-adult version of "Dreams From My Father."