“We All Have Belly Buttons”: Former state senator writes children’s book with a powerful message

Former State Senator Patrick Ballantine has written a children’s book that promotes unity while embracing differences

WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - Patrick Ballantine knows politics, serving as a North Carolina state senator from 1995-2004. He also knows how polarizing politics can be. That’s one of the reasons why the former senator is campaigning these days for kindness through a children’s book called “We All Have Belly Buttons.”

“We all have different backgrounds and cultures but we have one thing in common,” Ballantine said. “We all have belly buttons.”

Ballantine says the country is so divided that he saw an urgent need to reach children and perhaps their parents in the process.

“The message really is be kind, love one another, be tolerant and respectful,” he said. “The elections are over, the mudslinging is done. It’s time to maybe read a children’s book and understand we all have belly buttons.”

Ballantine says the subject of his book came to him after his daughter was born and he saw an umbilical cord for the first time. He made a mental note then that it’s the lifeline between a child, a mother, and everyone has one regardless of their race, size or religion.

That was over 20 years ago. Life as an attorney, state senator and entrepreneur, he said, got in the way.

“Years later I decided I should write a book. The country just seemed so divisive. I wanted to bring people together. It just sat on a shelf. Life gets in the way--you don’t do things,” he said.

Then recently, he got a message it was time to publish the children’s book he first imagined over two decades ago.

“A couple of months ago, I had to have an appendectomy and Dr. Tinsley, Ellis Tinsley says, ‘I’m going to go right through your belly button’ and I figured that must be a sign I need to finish my book.”

Ballantine’s book is filled with drawings of children of all races, illustrated by Jason Valesquez. It’s colorful, cheerful and contains a message of unity.

“We All Have Belly Buttons” will be available online on Thanksgiving Day.

For more information on the book and Ballantine’s message, click here.

Frances Weller

Frances Weller

Frances Weller is a proud Wilmington native, award-winning journalist, and community advocate. She recently celebrated 40 years at WECT and is a leader of the most trusted news team in Southeastern North Carolina. She began her journalism career at WECT not long after graduating from UNC-Chapel Hill, joining the news team she grew up watching.