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The First Pup; The Real Story of How Bo Got to the White House
by Bob Staake
Macmillan / Feiwel & Friends
2010
ISBN 10: 0312613466
ISBN 13: 9780312613464
 
Return To All Books
 
 

Behind The Pages With Bob:

"When Barack Obama gave his 2008 victory speech and pointed out that once his family moved to the White House his daughters would get a dog, I knew there was a picture book there. My plan was to write the book, have it ready, and then once the Obamas selected the dog (more precisely the breed of dog), I could finalize those illustations. There was significant interest in the book, but one publisher hoped that my story would be told more through the dog itself. I pointed out that this was impossible -- given the fact that the dog had not even been SELECTED yet. With the passing of time I began to lose interest in pursuing the bok -- and ultimately abandoned it. Then in May 2009, the Obamas finally selected their pet -- a Portuguese water dog. The New Yorker called and asked me if I might have an idea for a cover about this dog that the Obamas had named "Bo". I showed them my cover for the unpublished book and they loved it, though I made Bo significantly smaller against the green of the north lawn of the White House. The cover was a big hit and an article in The New Yorker incorrectly reported that I was still "shopping around" my children's book on Bo. Though this was not true, my agent was soon juggling phone calls and offers from no less than 7 major publishers. Though I resisted the offers, at a certain point I agreed to write and illustrate the book -- knowing that even if we fast tracked it, the book would be published a year later - and long after Bo-mania had subsided and 'The First Pup' would be forced to compete with a glut of competing picture books on the subject. Still, I was heartened by the terrific reviews -- and the fact that many of them pointed out that of all the books on Bo Obama, they viewed mine as the best."

-- Bob Staake

 

In a scene in the presidential bedroom, once can see Michelle and Sasha Obama doing dog research -- and reading books titled "Dogs Gone Wild", "How To Bow Wow" and "Puppy Mania!".

The book is dedicated by Staake to Francoise Mouly, his art editor at The New Yorker.

President Obama was photographed reading "The First Pup" to Texas kindergarteners in 2011. See the photo here.

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Summary:

Once upon a time, a man named Barack Obama ran for president of the United States and he won! On the night of his victory, he made a very important announcement: When he and his family were settled in their new home in Washington, D.C., his daughters would get . . . A PUPPY!
On a farm in Texas, a puppy had been born. One of ten brothers and sisters, this puppy was lively and smart, but he needed a new home.
From a Texas farm to the White House, this is the real story of Bo?the First Pup!

The First Pup is a 2011 Bank Street - Best Children's Book of the Year.

Sample image from book (above)

 

Publishers Weekly:

Staake's (Pets Go Pop!) welcome addition to the cache of Bo books offers an enthusiastic look at how the Portuguese water dog came to live at the White House. Neither as fact-driven as Carole Boston Weatherford's First Pooch nor as fanciful as Kate Feiffer's Which Puppy? this account is downright centrist by comparison, giving familiar and lesser-known particulars a whimsical bent. Kids will warm to the backstory of how the late Sen. Edward Kennedy acquired the puppy (a littermate of his own pet) for the Obamas. "When he learned that one of the litter of pups... had been returned to the farm and needed a second chance, he had a great idea...." Staake's stylized, angular illustrations take playful liberties with proportion and perspective, presenting caricatures of the first family, as well as Bo, White House staffers, and assorted fans. The canine's festive, red carpet arrival by limousine (complete with a sextet of buglers, a chef with a bone on a tray, and plenty of attentive Secret Service agents) is but one of the visual highlights in this exuberant tale. Ages 5-8.

"Delightfully illustrated." ­Travelforkids.com

"Staake writes energetically and illustrates exuberantly. His stylized drawings play with proportion, resulting in a pleasing retro perspective." ­The Cleveland Plain-Dealer

"In whimsical, antic illustrations, Staake shows us a busy White House filled with TV cameras, Secret Service and housekeeping staffBut what makes it all work is the wonderful energy of Staake's cartoon-like art and zippy text." ­San Francisco Chronicle

"Staake chronicles President Obama's 2008 victory speech and the ensuing media blitz surrounding the new puppy promised that night to his daughters . . . . one of the best versions of the tale so far."
­School Library Journal

"The spring of 2009 saw a host of First Dog books; this more mature work should win the vote." -Kirkus Reviews

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