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Being Teddy Roosevelt Hardcover – February 20, 2007


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 7 - 10 years
  • Grade Level: 2 - 5
  • Lexile Measure: 670L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 96 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR) (February 20, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374306575
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374306571
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 5.5 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,291,451 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 2–4—Fourth-grader Riley O'Rourke wants to play saxophone in instrumental music, but his mother can't afford to rent one. He can't possibly make enough money to buy one, and, even if he could, Mom might not let him, "because he was having enough trouble getting his regular homework done." A current assignment includes reading a biography (he chooses Teddy Roosevelt) and preparing to attend his teacher's biography tea in character. The plot moves smoothly to a satisfying conclusion that finds Riley gaining determination, new work habits, and a sax through reading about Roosevelt's life ("If Teddy Roosevelt had wanted a saxophone, he would have gotten himself a saxophone. Somehow"). The believable cast of characters includes best-friend Grant, who decides to wear a loincloth to portray Gandhi; overachiever Sophie, who must have 700 notecards on Helen Keller; and belligerent Erika, who seems to have gotten nicer as Queen Elizabeth. Alley's occasional black-and-white sketches are appealing and give additional information. Children will appreciate this gentle lesson about achieving a goal.—Lee Bock, Glenbrook Elementary School, Pulaski, WI
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Everyone in fourth-grader Riley O'Rourke's class has been given an assignment in which each student must research a famous person and then dress as that person for a special party. Riley is assigned Theodore Roosevelt, but while he's working on his biography, he's also trying to figure out how he can play the saxophone in the school band. The problem is that Riley's single mom simply can't afford the rental for the instrument. Eventually, Riley absorbs some of T. R.'s can-do spirit, marches into the band room, and presents his dilemma to the band instructor. The instructor lets Riley have a used instrument at no cost, and the problem is solved. Lots of funny lines and comical situations enliven the simple story, which is also enriched by its portrait of grade-school friendships and goofy classroom happenings, depicted in Alley's appealing spot drawings. Todd Morning
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

More About the Author

Claudia Mills is the author of over 50 books for young readers. To write her books she draws on childhood memories of growing up in New Jersey as well as funny stories her two sons brought home from elementary school and middle school as they grew up in Colorado. She loves to visit schools, where she is always on the prowl for material that can make its way into a chapter book or middle grade novel.

Claudia is also a professor of philosophy at the University of Colorado at Boulder, specializing in ethics and political philosophy, who has published many articles on philosophical and ethical themes in children's literature, including essays on the work of Maud Hart Lovelace, Eleanor Estes, Betty MacDonald, Louisa May Alcott, and Rosamond du Jardin.

All of Claudia's books have been written between 5 and 7 in the morning, while drinking Swiss Miss hot chocolate at her cozy home near the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. She likes to write for an hour every day, watching little bits of daily writing grow into big piles of published books to share with children everywhere.

Customer Reviews

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Highly recommended for elementary audiences.
Kelly Herold
The author has a good ear for kid dialogue and a good sense of pacing.
Maria Beadnell
This is an absolute must-have for the 3rd grade book club shelf.
Matthew A. Wigdahl

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Maria Beadnell on May 16, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Since I work as a children's librarian, I see plenty of kids coming in for homework on "being" a historical character--so I know this book is very real! As often as not, they have no idea who they are going to portray but end up enjoying the assignment.

A wonderful thing about this book is the many plotlines woven into its 90 pages: Will Riley get his sax? Will this or that kid succeed in the assignment? Will the overachiever triumph this time, too?

The author has a good ear for kid dialogue and a good sense of pacing. All in all an enjoyable book, and at just under a hundred pages long enough for book reports.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Kelly Herold on March 26, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Claudia Mills' "Being Teddy Roosevelt" is a small school story with a big punch.

Aimed at the 1st- through 4th-grade reader, "Being Teddy Roosevelt" stars Riley, a fourth-grader who lives with his single mother and isn't always a grade A student, though his intentions are good. You see, he's forgetful and those math worksheets just have a way of disappearing.

When Mrs. Harrow, Riley's teacher, announces the class will be preparing reports on famous historical figures and attending a biography tea in full costume, Riley is concerned. He knows he'll have trouble reading a full biography on his subject: Teddy Roosevelt. He's concerned about being in costume and preparing for the tea. Adding to his biography problems is the announcement about instrumental music in 5th grade. Students have been invited to enroll, but Riley knows his mom can't afford to rent him a saxophone.

Despite his reservations, Riley gets caught up in his subject and learns that Roosevelt never went around an obstacle--instead he faced them head on. Riley decides he'll earn the money himself to buy a sax and his friend Grant, a well-off child with millions of video games, is happy to help. (Grant drew Gandhi for his biography subject--to hilarious results at the tea.) In working towards his goal, Riley earns an A- on his Roosevelt report AND, with the help of Grant and two other school friends, finds a way to get a saxophone. Erika (a pushy Queen Elizabeth) and class brain Sophie (a frustrated Helen Keller) convince Riley to just ask the band director for a sax: "As they got close to the cafeteria, Riley could hear the fifth graders playing a lively march. It made him feel braver inside. Music could do that for you. It could change the way you felt. It could make everything better.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Matthew A. Wigdahl on June 27, 2008
Format: Hardcover
This is an absolute must-have for the 3rd grade book club shelf. Riley is a forgetful 4th grader with a life full of challenges. He desperately wants a saxophone, as his class will soon be starting instruments in music. His parents are divorced and there is very little money for such extravagances. In class, his teacher has assigned the students a famous person to study, report on, and ultimately dress up as for her annual "Biography Tea." Riley gets Roosevelt and throughout the story finds connections between Teddy and himself - ultimately transcending his obstacles and getting what he wants most.

This book is SO CLOSE to perfect! I really wish it had more connections between the historical figure biographies and the students studying them. Specifically, I wish the pairing of Riley and Roosevelt worked out better. He ends up having to rely on his friends (was that a theme of Teddy Roosevelt's life?) to accomplish his goal. Some of the connections for the other students are actually quite wonderful - his best friend, Grant, is studying Ghandi and has some brilliant episodes of humility, poverty, and compassion. One of the girls in class studies Helen Keller and her attempts at blindness and deafness add some interesting scenes, however lacking in actual deep connections. It would have made for such great discussion to have some more conflict with the students and their biographies.

I shouldn't take anything away from what is really a wonderful story. My students enjoyed it thoroughly and had wonderful discussions about earning money, emulating their heroes, and friendship. I won't put it in the top 5, but it is definitely a staple of the 3rd grade shelf.
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By Maureen O'Neill on February 12, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
It was so funny and it had lots of action and excitement and etcetera and more and more and more...
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