The author of 12 books for adults, including her newly released Persist, Sen. Elizabeth Warren will publish her first picture book in October. Inspired by her presidential run in 2020, Pinkie Promises, illustrated by Charlene Chua, is aimed at budding feminists.
Warren says that when her campaign ended, she missed the thousands of girls she’d shared pinkie promises with by locking little fingers on the campaign trail. She thought “long and hard about what a pinkie promise could really mean for a little girl,” and the idea for the book took hold.
Though she’s a fan of children’s books and has read many of them to her children and grandkids, Warren says that she never thought she’d write one herself. But, she adds, “I’d never thought I’d get the chance to run for president, either.”
Warren’s vision for the book is to present girls with “acts of bravery and empowerment that they, and anyone, can do [and] to show that we can all step up when we encounter opposition.” Her protagonist, Polly, receives a pinkie promise that serves as a touchstone. It gives her confidence to do new things: score a goal, fix a leaking sink, find a missing dog, start at a new school, or even run for class president.
Warren looked at a number of children’s book artists to collaborate with on the book. But when she saw Chua’s work, she says, it “stole my heart.” She particularly liked the way that Chua draws girls “who are full of spark, lively and determined” (not unlike the book’s author). Chua seemed to understand Polly and create “interesting people in engaging settings,” like Polly’s brother and uncle. There’s also Polly’s dog (which looks a lot like Warren’s own golden retriever, Bailey), who has his own story line in the book.
Warren says writing Pinkie Promises also gave her the chance to revisit an earlier time in her life, when she was a special education teacher for four- to six-year-olds. The book was “so much fun, a true pleasure, front to back,” she adds. And she was glad to be able to “work through what a pinkie promise can mean to a little girl like Polly.”
Betsy Groban is a journalist, former book publisher, and the proud owner of an Elizabeth Warren action figure.
Warren will be in conversation with Laura Godwin, publisher of Godwin Books and the editor of Pinkie Promises, on Thursday, May 27, 10–10:30 a.m. ET.