The Patriot gets a children's book

The new mascot book Hello, Patriot! sits on display at the Bookstore. It is also available online. (Jake McLernon)

George Mason University’s three-year-old mascot, The Patriot, now has a children’s book aimed at kids of all ages. Grown-ups may like it, too.

The book, Hello, Patriot!, features a short story and illustrations of “a day in the life” of the Patriot mascot at Mason and is the university’s first children’s book. It hit shelves at the Bookstore on Dec. 6, with orders also being available online.

“It’s a children’s book, but we expect it will sell a lot to students, alumni, faculty and staff,” said Debbie Williams, a management analyst in auxiliary enterprises, who helped oversee production aspects of the book.

The story, put together by Mascot Books, features many Mason “traditions,” including a decorated George Mason statue, rubbing the statue’s foot for good luck, International Week and the Shack-a-thon. In what appears to be their debut, it also shows introduces the Patriot’s parents.

“He has to think through where [on campus] to show them,” Williams said.

Mason isn’t the first school to get a children’s book about a university mascot—Mascot Books has books for at least 70 campuses alone. At University of Cincinnati, there’s Hello, Bearcats!; at Gonzaga, there’s Spike Goes to Italy!; at Georgia Tech, there’s both Hello, Buzz! and Daddy and Me Go to the Georgia Tech Game.  In the area, Old Dominion University and William & Mary also have books featuring Mascots, according to Williams.

Mascot Books’ founders, Naren and Aimee Aryal, are both Virginia Tech graduates. They made the first book, HokieBird!, in 2003 after looking for a book for their child about their alma mater, and then started the company. The Herndon-based company has now published over 350 books.

“[Our book] tries to highlight the campus as well as getting some word out about who our mascot is,” Williams said. The Patriot mascot replaced Gunston in 2008, following a University Relations evaluation of the mascot after the men’s basketball team’s famous NCAA Final Four run in 2006.

The book project at Mason was run as an initiative out of the school’s recently-established Green and Gold Innovation Process, a revenue enhancing project contributing to the Futures (Opportunity) Fund, with the purpose of generating “creative, innovative ideas to enhance net-income.” Other projects run through the GGIP and administered through Auxiliary Enterprises include the MasonAds digital signage program on the campus’s LCD network.

Plans are in place to promote the book as a holiday gift, at next year’s Fall for the Book, and possibly Homecoming.

Local schools may be interested in Hello, Patriot!, too, according to Williams. A remodeled Gunston currently visits local schools and does programs not about Mason, but sustainability.

For children, like those in Child Development Center on campus, Williams said it “might pique their curiosity” about the university. The target audience, however, includes children and parents with an affiliation to the university, according to Williams.

Students, faculty, staff and alumni may also want it as a keepsake of their time at Mason, Williams said.

“I think it’s a trigger point for your memories,” Williams said.

A promotional event for book for Mason families is scheduled for Jan. 7, the same day as the men’s basketball game vs. Georgia State. The Patriot mascot will be present in the Johnson Center Atrium for the event, and signing books.


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