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White House dog hits the shelf

NOW Bo's paws are firmly planted in the White House, let the marketing begin!

A small Virginia publisher is racing out the first picture book for kids featuring the precious little Portie, with the pup on the cover in his colorful lei.

How'd they do it so fast? After all, Bo made his official debut only on Tuesday.

"I would suggest that I've got some inside Washington information but that wouldn't be entirely truthful," said the author Naren Aryal, who is also the publisher and chief executive of Mascot Books in Herndon.

Aryal said on Thursday he began writing a generic Portuguese water dog story about two months ago after the Obamas seemed to have their dog choices down to a portie or a Labradoodle to accommodate first daughter Malia's allergies.

Bo himself was inserted at then last minute and some new White House institutions such as first lady Michelle Obama's vegetable garden were incorporated to make the book more Obama specific. The illustrations are digital, speeding up the process to get "Bo, America's Commander in Leash" out in less than a week.

Mascot Books, with six employees, specializes in titles about school and professional sports mascots. For the Bo book, the company already has 50,000 pre-orders, with a healthy first print run of about 100,000 planned, Aryal said.

The book, which retails for US$14.95 and is aimed at kids 4 to 10, will be sold through major retailers and should be out in about five days, he said.

In the story, illustrated in-house by Danny Moore, the energetic first dog is the narrator and takes readers on a tour of the White House. He plays basketball with the president and shares White House rituals such as the Easter Egg Roll.

Fact boxes with tidbits about the history of the White House itself and a collage of famous pets are included. Did you know John Quincy Adams kept an alligator there?

A tuckered Bo curls up on a bean bag bed for a well-deserved rest at the end, Aryal said.


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