Callista Gingrich, spouse of GOP presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich, released a children’s book Monday about United States history titled, “Sweet Land of Liberty.” Callista, who is president of Gingrich Productions, worked with illustrator Susan Arciero to create a book that explains our national history through rhymes.
The story follows the happy-go-lucky elephant Ellis (a clear reference to famed immigration gate Ellis Island) as he explores the U.S.’s background in a library textbook. Getting lost in the book, the curious animal begins to experience significant moments in American history. Rather than simply read the text about big events, Ellis lives them. Donning a feather-head, Ellis mingles with native Americans and immigrants at the dinner table for the pilgrims’ first Thanksgiving.
“Brave pilgrims came here to find a new land,” reads the text. “With the help of God, they survived cold and beast, and celebrated together with a Thanksgiving feast.”
Ellis also goes back in time to appear at the Boston Tea Party, maintaining his grin as the others dump boxes into the ocean. The adventures continue, as the mammal has the chance to sign the Declaration of Independence among the Founding Fathers, accompany George Washington on the Delaware crossing, travel out west with cowboys, ride on the wing of the first airplane, see Ellis Island and visit the moon. An eagle tags along for all of Ellis’s excursions, but the bird has a discreet presence on each page.
Callista, who hopes this book exposes American history to kids ages four to eight, recently agreed to talk about her “pro-America” work with The Daily Caller.
What inspired you to write this book?
I wrote this book because I love America and believe that America is truly an exceptional nation. It is more important now than ever to make sure our children realize what makes our country so special. They need to know America is a great nation that has been through hard times before, and has always pulled together to turn difficult times into great achievements.
Do you plan on promoting the book by reading it at schools or libraries?
Yes, most definitely. I am really looking forward to sharing Ellis the Elephant and Sweet Land of Liberty with children across the country. Regnery Publishing has done a great job working with our team at Gingrich Productions to set up readings at bookstores, schools and libraries. Upcoming events will be posted on our websites, EllisTheElephant.com and GingrichProductions.com.
The illustrations show characters smiling during tense historical events such as the Boston Tea Party and American Revolution. Do you think you still convey the seriousness of these events?
Yes, I believe so. Keep in mind that this book is geared for children ages 4-8. Ellis the Elephant is discovering the defining moments of our American history, as will most of the children reading this book. My goal is that these stories will help children feel proud of our country and enable them to appreciate the courage, sacrifice and service that has made America an exceptional nation.
Can you explain the eagle that appears on each page?
The eagle is the national symbol of the United States. I wanted to include important American symbols that children can recognize. On the cover of the book, Ellis is holding an American flag, and he’s standing in front of the Statue of Liberty. We think these symbols belong to all Americans and want children to feel proud of this heritage. Children really like finding the eagle in each illustration.
The main character is an elephant. Is this an homage to the GOP signature elephant?
This book is about patriotism. It is not a “Republican” book or a “conservative” book, it’s a pro-America book. We considered many kinds animals for the main character: Giraffes, bunnies and hippos. In the end, this little elephant was so adorable I couldn’t resist.
What do you want children to take away from this book? What does your book have that other children’s books, particularly politically charged ones, don’t?
I was surprised to learn that there are very few books written for this age group about American history. I expect this book will serve as an introduction to key historical events for most of the children reading it. The more kids learn about American history, the more they will love America. American history encourages patriotism, teaches key lessons about being American and helps us better understand our country. I hope it appeals to many American families as a celebration of our shared patriotic values.