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Teedie: The Story of Young Teddy Roosevelt Paperback – April 4, 2017
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Young readers familiar with the burly, hale Teddy Roosevelt who lived for adventure will likely be surprised to learn that as a lad he was a sickly, nearsighted asthmatic. Yet this privileged city kid, bully-prey, decided early on never to let his frailties govern his ambitions. Brown uses copious quotations to good measure as he flits through Roosevelt’s young life. (The quotes are unsourced, though a bibliography is appended, including Roosevelt’s autobiography.) Roosevelt’s words help impart the man’s predilection for sternly poetic hyperbole: to get fit, “he paddled ‘in the hottest sun, over the roughest water, in the smallest boat.’” The artwork is what one expects from Brown—vignettes of scratchy pen-work that capture humor and drama with equal ease—and show Teddy’s progression from a wispy twig into a big stick. While this account may not possess the laser-beam focus of Brown’s recent compact histories Let It Begin Here and All Stations Distress (both 2008), it does have a more kid-friendly hook in the young man whose determination trumped his boyhood shortcomings. Grades 1-3. --Ian Chipman --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"Brown’s characteristically vigorous scrawls capture both the scrawny boy and the bulldog of a man, infusing his vignettes with a sizable helping of wit. All in all, this is a spot-on introductory book for lower grades."--Kirkus Reviews
". . . vignettes of scratchy pen-work that capture humor and drama with equal ease—and shows Teddy’s progression from a wispy twig into a big stick . . . a more kid-friendly hook in the young man whose determination trumped his boyhood shortcomings."--Booklist
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Top Customer Reviews
His father and mother would worry about him and they even tried experimenting with fanciful cures such as having Teedie "gulp coffee or puff on a cigar." He exhibited insatiable curiosity and his father indulged him and let him grow in his own way. His frailty was a concern and his father encouraged physical fitness, something he readily embraced despite his physical limitations. Teedie's body, in the years to come, began to become strong. His tenacity was unmatched. Teddy "claimed he was just average." Would Teddy Roosevelt ever attain the expectations he had for himself in his mind?
This story and the artwork blended together superbly to make the young Teddy Roosevelt come to life. I suspect it was not an easy accomplishment because most people think of him as a Rough Rider and would never think or nor believe he was a sickly child. In the back of the book there is an illustration of Teddy with a brief timeline biography, an author's note with additional biographical information and a bibliography. You're going to simply fall in love with Teedie, the "undersize boy" who became a "larger-than-life man!"
Well, you may not believe it, but back before he was awesome Teddy Roosevelt was a puny, weak, asthmatic little boy. (Apparently he never recovered from the asthma, he just lived around it. Fair enough.) No, it's true! So here is this whole book about TR as a kid and young adult and how he triumphed over his weaknesses through sheer force of will. He rides horses (and doesn't even notice his arm is broken once until several jumps had gone by, as a well-timed quote from the man himself indicates), he learns to box, he becomes a cowboy to recover from the death of his wife and his mother on the same day... well, the list goes on and on.
One note - "inspirational" tales about disability abound. Not everybody who is asthmatic or physically weak or disabled is going to be able to overcome these problems by "trying hard", and neither will all of them especially want to. This is a great book, and pretty accurate, but if you're giving it to inspire a disabled/weak/asthmatic friend, reconsider your motives. Then, when you're back to viewing this as a great true story, give it with an open heart. It's a great book. (It's a pity I even have to say this, but if you've ever been disabled you'll know how annoying it is to be told, in alternating breaths, both that you could get out of your wheelchair and walk if you wanted to/tried harder/prayed better and then that you're brave and inspirational for venturing out of the house at all.)
Also, please note that this is a lengthy book. Your younger children might not sit still long enough to get through it all. Save it for reading alone or for reading to an older crowd.
"Teedie: The Story Of Young Teddy Roosevelt"
Written and illustrated by Don Brown
(Houghton Mifflin, 2009)
A brief but excellent picturebook biography of Theodore Roosevelt, the 26th President of the United States, telling his story from the point of view of Roosevelt as a small child, growing into manhood. TR's early years hold a perennial appeal for younger readers: when he was quite little, Roosevelt suffered from asthma and was a bit of a wallflower, pale, thin and withdrawn, but in his adolescence he subscribed to a program of rigorous physical improvement, and remade himself as the rough, tough, blustering. larger-than-life character who come to dominate American politics at the dawn of the 20th Century.
This book is a quick read, but may help spur interest in Roosevelt's life and times; one drawback is that his major accomplishments in life -- trust-busting, regulatory reform, spearheading the Panama Canal -- are mentioned only quite briefly at the end. Still, it's a compelling narrative, and the tone of the text is nicely complimented by Don Brown's expressive yet economical artwork. If you enjoy this book, Brown has made about a dozen other biographical books of equally high calibre, including ones on several less well-known historical figures. (Joe Sixpack, ReadThatAgain children's book reviews)