Author (and President of the United States) Barack Obama will soon release his first children's book, Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to My Daughters, an illustrated volume written before Obama took office. According to publisher Random House, the book is "a moving tribute to thirteen groundbreaking Americans and the ideals that have shaped our nation from the artistry of Georgia O'Keeffe, to the courage of Jackie Robinson...." Obama will donate all proceeds from the $17.99 book, due out Nov. 16, to a scholarship fund for the children of fallen U.S. soldiers. (Watch an AP report about the book.) Reaction to news of the president's latest work has been generally — if not entirely — bilious:
Obama should stick to "writing treaties": With its "patronizing, pseudo-didactic, blood-freezing smarm," says children's author Philip Womack in the Telegraph, the title of this book alone "makes me want to stick my fingers in my ears and scream." And I "can't help but feeling" that the entire premise is "woefully misconceived." Sorry, Mr. President, you can't just "wake up one morning and [decide], after your basketball practice," that you know what children want to read.
Bad timing: Random House says the book "'celebrates the characteristics that unite all Americans,'" says Dave Rosenthal in The Baltimore Sun. But with the book set to hit shelves "in the wake" of the midterm elections, "uniting Americans on anything" will be a challenge. So, "good luck" with that...
Conspiracy theorists, start your comments: As "uncontroversial" as Obama's children's book appears to be, says Juli Weiner in Vanity Fair, "internet commenters will undoubtedly cry conspiracy at some suspiciously socialist font or marginally Muslim word choice." Which is why we should anticipate what the "incensed, deranged theories" will be, and "debunk them now" so we can "avoid the conversation later."
Breaking the rules: Since Obama began running for president in 2008, says Byron York in Washington Examiner, "there has been a general rule that Obama's children are off-limits for most public discussion." So why is he featuring Sasha and Malia on this book's cover?
Exploitation? Please...: The idea that Obama is "exploiting his young daughters to sell his latest book" is completely "ridiculous," says Luisita Lopez Torregrosa in Politics Daily. "It's a children's book, for goodness sakes. It makes sense that the likeness of his daughters would adorn the book's cover jacket." Please, can we give up this absurd "fuss"?
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- Syrian women know how to defeat ISIS
- Will Kobani be ISIS's Waterloo?
- The U.S. Marines are developing laser weapons. Here's why.
- The one thing the New Atheists get right about religion
- 3 horrific inaccuracies in Homeland's depiction of Islamabad
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- 10 things you need to know today: October 21, 2014
- Gamergate has backfired spectacularly on its nincompoop perpetrators
- The stories behind 22 classic album covers
Subscribe to the Week