Giovanna McBride is the author of the new children's picture book Gigi at the White House!. It is based on her experiences visiting the White House as a child during the George W. Bush administration, when her mother, Anita McBride, was First Lady Laura Bush's chief of staff. Giovanna McBride is a student at Texas Christian University.
Q: What inspired you to write Gigi at the White House!?
A: Many children have at least one special opportunity to visit their parents at work, and for me that special opportunity meant visiting the White House when my mother worked as the Chief of Staff for First Lady Laura Bush.
When I was about 4 years old until I was about 8, I was given many extraordinary opportunities to visit and spend time behind the scenes of the White House so often. I was lucky enough to come to know First Lady Laura Bush, members of the Secret Service, the White House Pastry Chefs and the many staff members who work so hard at the White House every day.
Those years at the White House were so formative for my childhood and I had always wanted to share my memories, so writing a book felt like the perfect way to express my gratitude to the Bush family who was so welcoming, as well as give children a fun look into the White House.
Q: What impact did your experiences visiting the White House have on you, now that you’re looking back at them?
A: Looking back now, I appreciate even more what incredible opportunities I was given to explore the White House. I was able to do many fun things such as attend Easter Egg Rolls, watch films in the movie theater, and spend time with all the wonderful people who worked at the White House.
I had always known that my experiences were unique, but through writing this book I have come to realize just how much they have shaped who I am. I have always enjoyed history, but I think that being surrounded with the rich history and stories of the White House at such a young age further enforced that interest and appreciation.
I also think that my experiences made me a very grateful and aware person because even at such a young age I was able to understand how unique the opportunities were and continue to appreciate them.
Q: What do you think John Hutton’s illustrations add to the book?
A: John Hutton’s illustrations truly are a masterpiece. He brought this story to life in such a beautiful way and I could not have done it without him. With each page being so vivid and colorful, John has created the most wonderful and engaging illustrations that are perfect for this happy story.
I’ve heard from many kids how much they love the pictures, and it makes me overjoyed that children love the illustrations as much as I do.
Q: What do you hope kids take away from the book?
A: I really hope children will learn that the White House is not only a fun and special place but a welcoming one.
The book itself is an inside look at the many things that are constantly going on that hopefully kids can feel what it might be like to visit the White House. I hope that the book will encourage kids to want to learn and explore more about the White House and all its history.
Q: What are you working on now?
A: I am currently a college student at Texas Christian University studying education. I am working towards earning a degree in early childhood education. I love and value children’s literature and I am so grateful that this book might possibly be a learning tool that I can use in a classroom of my own one day.
Q: Anything else we should know?
A: It has been an absolute pleasure and great experience working with the White House Historical Association to publish my book as part of their ongoing children’s series. They are doing wonderful things to teach and tell the stories of the White House and those who live there, and I recommend people of all ages to take advantage of all the White House Historical Association has to offer.
I would also like to add that I am beyond grateful for each person who welcomed me into the White House, because I would not have been able to tell this story without them.
--Interview with Deborah Kalb