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June 23, 2017

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First lady uses green thumb to pen book

And there are bits of historical trivia woven throughout: John Adams ordered up the first White House garden, but it was never harvested after he lost re-election. Thomas Jefferson was obsessed with trying to grow a 4-foot (1.2-meter)-long cucumber. Heiress Rachel "Bunny" Mellon, at 101 now a figure in the corruption trial of former presidential candidate John Edwards, helped redesign the Rose Garden for President John F. Kennedy.

There are also bits of personal history: Mrs. Obama's father worked as a boy on one of the vegetable trucks that would deliver produce to neighborhoods, and had a reputation for sneaking pieces of fruit. Her mother's family had a plot in a neighborhood victory garden on the corner of an alley, and the kids had to eat their vegetables or go to bed without supper.

It is a tradition for first ladies to use books to advance their causes. Hillary Clinton wrote the best-seller "It Takes a Village," about the importance of community in raising children; and Laura Bush collaborated with daughter Jenna on a picture book about a reluctant reader, with "Read All About It!"

This is Michelle Obama's first book. She got no advance payment, and plans to donate all her proceeds to the National Park Foundation for programs that promote gardening and healthy eating, and to help care for the White House garden.

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