It was a conversation with her niece that led MaryTherese Grabowski into becoming the author of a children’s book series on patriotism.
“My niece wanted to go to Washington with me on a trip when I was with the 21st Century Partnership,” Grabowski said. “I was asking her questions about D.C., and when I asked her who made up the president’s Cabinet she responded “Why do I care who makes his furniture?”
Grabowski started quizzing other children as she met them and soon discovered that many children lack a working knowledge of American history and government. Grabowski created a character -- America Johnson -- and started writing books to help children become more prepared as Americans.
Two books in the 25-book series have already been published. In the first book, “Liberty on the Loose in the White House,” was released in March. In this book, America and her family learn a lot about the White House and its residents while searching for their dog Liberty.
Her second book, “America by George,” was released in August and is about America’s homework assignment on George Washington.
A third book, “Your Vote Counts,” is due out in February 2016.
“It might seem trivial, that a child doesn’t know about the cabinet or can’t tell you the address of the White House,” Grabowski said. “But it is such a privilege to be born in this country, to be part of this process, you need to understand what is going on, why we vote and why we need to be involved.”
Grabowski collaborates on the America Johnson series with Michelle Graham Fricks, who illustrates the book. She met Fricks in the parking lot of Robins Federal Credit Union. “I was going overseas as part of Operation Seasons Greeting and she had contacted me. Her girls wanted to send their father a package. We just struck up a friendship,” Grabowski said.
Both Grabowski and Fricks see the America Johnson series as a movement; a fun and memorable way to get kids to learn much like the “Schoolhouse Rock!” series of the ‘70s and ‘80s.
“If you don’t know where you came from, you can’t know where you are going,” Grabowski said.
Grabowski will be in Middle Georgia for book signings during the next week. On Oct. 9, she will be at Sacred Heart Catholic Church and will be signing books starting at about 11:30 a.m. On Oct. 10, she will be at Barnes and Noble Booksellers in Macon from 2-4 p.m. to help kick off Education Appreciation Week. Both books will be available for purchase at both events and are available online at Amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com. America Johnson even has her own Twitter handle,endattr val="chscale"/>
Alline Kent can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 396-2467.