First Lady Christie Vilsack is out on her third annual book tour of the state. Each year she gives a new book to every kindergartner in Iowa, and this year that includes some 40-thousand copies of “Sweet Corn and Sushi: The story of Iowa and Yamanashi.” Vilsack says the book tells the story of the 1960 Iowa hog lift to Japan. She says when Yamanashi had a typhoon that wiped out their hog population, Richard Thomas, an Iowan who had been in the military, asked Iowans to donate hogs. Iowa airlifted 35 hogs and feed to Japan, so the hogs there are descended from Iowa hogs.All the books have been written and illustrated by Iowans, including this year’s, written by Lori Erickson and illustrated by Wil Thomson. Vilsack says the idea is to get kids reading. She says we have children in Iowa that don’t own a book. She says the goal is to let every child get the sense of ownership of a book. Vilsack says the book teaches a message about the relationship between the U.S. and Japan. She says she thinks it’s important, especially in the world today, that you can be at war with a country and mend your differences and become trading partners. Vilsack says she thinks that message makes children feel more secure. Mrs. Vilsack says it costs about200-thousand dollars to provide the books, so she raised the money throughout the year from nonprofit agencies and private businesses.
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