The former first daughter stops by Santa Monica, signing new book encouraging kids to make a difference

By Shanee Edwards

“Start Now!” is Chelsea Clinton’s latest endeavor to boost youth activism

Chelsea Clinton’s new book “Start Now! You Can Make a Difference” hopes to inspire the youth of America to take an active role in caring for the planet, other people, and stopping bullies.

The 38-year-old author and mother of two conveyed that positive message through her smiling demeanor at Brentwood Country Mart’s Diesel bookstore in Santa Monica, where she signed copies of “Start Now!” the evening of Oct. 9. The mood in the room was one of hope and excitement particularly from the dozens of tween girls all with Clinton’s latest book in hand. Over the course of an hour, the author signed roughly 250 books and posed for photos with her fans.

In person, Chelsea looks just as much like her mother Hillary as her father Bill, though she seems to embrace a serene and poised attitude. Though she seems very comfortable in her own skin there was no formal address to the crowd; she simply began greeting her guests and signing their books, including the hashtag “#StartNow!” with her signature.

Best friends Luna Landesman and Bryce Collis, both 11 years old and students at The Archer School for Girls, waited patiently in line with Landesman’s dad, but their excitement was palpable.

“It’s crazy,” says Collis about Chelsea Clinton signing her book, “because it’s somebody that you see on the news and on TV and we get to meet her and tell her how smart we think she is. It’s awesome.”

“She’s a role model,” says Landesman, “to every little girl who wants to be president or do something special.”

Though both girls would be thrilled if the younger Clinton went into politics, Landesman says, “She doesn’t have to do exactly what her mother did. She can be a writer or do whatever she wants.” Currently, Chelsea Clinton is serving as vice chair at the Clinton Foundation, working on initiatives to develop future leaders.

While the crowd was mostly girls, 7-year-old Gabriel McCormack, a student at Franklin Elementary in Santa Monica, was also excited to meet the prominent daughter of an American political dynasty.

“She’s Hillary’s daughter and Hillary was going to be president. A woman president,” he says.

“Start Now! You Can Make a Difference” is Chelsea Clinton’s fourth children’s book and tackles topics like the importance of clean water, saving endangered animals like orangutans, polar bears and even pangolins, which are armadillo-like animals found in Southeast Asia.

But probably the biggest message the book sends is encouraging young people to stand up to bullies, particularly cyber bullies.

“Cyber bullying is a huge challenge across our country,” said Clinton in a recent interview with the Associated Press. “I think we need those of us with platforms to not ignore the trolls, not to become consumed by them, but to shine a light and say here’s how you can respond where you’re calmly defending yourself but you’re also showing it’s not okay and you’re not degrading your own humanity in doing that.”

Her previous book, “She Persisted: 13 American Women Who Changed the World” became a number one New York Times bestseller in 2017.

When Chelsea Clinton signed my own copy of “Start Now!,” I asked her why kids today should be hopeful about the future. She said, “Because they’re already engaged and making a difference.”

“Start Now! You Can Make a Difference” is published by Philomel Books.