Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Nice Work, Franklin!

Nice Work, Franklin!

Suzanne Tripp Jurmain
Illustrator:  Larry Day 
Nonfiction Picture Book
For ages 6 to 8
Penguin, 2016   ISBN: 978-0803738003

Franklin Delano Roosevelt was lucky enough to have a well-to-do family and loving parents and so he had a very happy childhood. He was clever and he was popular, and he was also determined to be like his cousin Theodore Roosevelt, who just happened to be the president of the United States. As much as possible, Franklin tried to be like cousin Ted, and so he wore eyeglasses like cousin Ted’s, he went Harvard College like cousin Ted, and he followed the same career path that his famous cousin had taken. Franklin became a member of the New York Legislature, and the Assistant Secretary of the Navy. Just like cousin Ted.

Then, soon after Franklin’s thirty-ninth birthday, his life took a dramatic turn. Franklin got Polio and his legs were paralyzed. Franklin could have retired and chosen a life of ease, but that was not his way. He exercised and worked his legs, he got stronger and stronger until he was able to stand on his braced legs to make speeches and drive his specially modified car. He was still handicapped and used a wheelchair a lot of the time, but he was determined to push forward with his career. And so he did.

Franklin was the governor of New York State and doing well, when America got into trouble. Years of irresponsible financial shenanigans finally caught up with the people, and the economy crashed. The Great Depression started and everywhere you looked you saw people out of work. Millions of people lost their jobs, their homes, and their self-respect. It was a dark time.

In Washington D.C. the government said that there was nothing that they could or should do. Franklin felt differently. There had to be something that the American people could do to save the country, and so he decided to run for president. He promised the people that he would do his best to set the country back on its feet, and the people listened to his words. They needed something to hope for, and Franklin had enough hope to share. Surely if Franklin could beat polio, America could beat the Great Depression.

This excellent picture book biography gives readers a picture of one of America’s great popular figures. Of course, we get to know Franklin the statesman, but we also get to know Franklin the sick man who prevailed in spite of everything; and Franklin the leader who reached out to his people and did his best to reassure and comfort them during a very hard time in America’s history.