Bo, the Obama family dog, posing for his official White House portrait in the Rose Garden on March 3, 2010.


Bo Obama is worth a lot more than $1,600 to some.

KIDS While the blogosphere buzzed about the value of our nation’s top dog (that would be $1,600, according to the Obamas’ financial disclosure form, released this past Monday), Chicago magazine staffer Gina Bazer recalled another time when Bo’s worth was under consideration. Not long after the president’s election-day declaration that he would be delivering on his promise of a dog for his daughters, Bazer co-wrote a children’s book called Now Hiring: White House Dog, loosely based on the first family’s search for the perfect pup. We checked in with Bazer after Monday’s report; here’s what she said:

Cover of the book Now Hiring: White House Dog by Gina Bazer and Renanah Lehner

“Around the time we were working on our book, several other publishers were trying to cash in on the then-unknown dog’s presumed value. In addition to our book (which never actually names Bo as the protagonist), there were others unleashed last spring: Bo, America’s Commander in Leash; First Dog; and Which Puppy? among them. This was not long after the Ty Girlz controversy, so we felt a little nervous about being perceived as exploitative. But, we decided the story of a family searching for the right pet is universal. And I think that’s how parents and kids who read the book feel, too.

While Now Hiring: White House Dog hasn’t exactly matched Dreams From My Father in sales, we were pretty thrilled that it hit number three for children’s books on the Chicagoland independent bookseller bestseller list when it first came out (beat out only by the Twilight series!). It’s also exciting to know that our book is at the Chicago Public Library and all major bookstores. Recently, we were named as a top pick by the Martha Speaks Read-Aloud Book Club. That’s not the Martha (as in Stewart) but Martha the talking dog on the PBS Kids channel that my four-year-old son adores. He was very proud when he saw Martha reading ‘mommy’s book.’ For me, that’s priceless.”

Watch Gina Bazer, her co-author Renanah Lehner, and illustrator Andrew Day—all Chicagoans—talk about Now Hiring: White House Dog on The Interview Show.


Photograph: (Obama) Chuck Kennedy