Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Teddy Roosevelt: Young Rough Rider

Teddy Roosevelt: Young Rough Rider

Edd Winfield Parks
Illustrator:  Gray Morrow 
Nonfiction  Series
For ages 8 to 12
Simon and Schuster, 1989   ISBN: 978-0689713491

Long before Theodore Roosevelt made that famous ride up San Juan Hill in Cuba, he was a different kind of rough rider. When he was just a young boy, Theodore and his siblings were given a pony called General Grant. The first time Theodore tried to ride the pony he was bucked off. Now most young boys would have given up there and then but not Theodore. The boy get back on the horse and held on grimly until the pony gave up trying to buck his rider off.

This was the way Theodore approached many of the challenges that he had to face during his life. Weakened by having chronic asthma since infancy, Theodore wasn’t able to stand up for himself when some boys bullied him. The experience so enraged Theodore that he determined that he was never going to let anyone bully him again. With a will he set about strengthening his body, hitting a punching bag, lifting weights and doing other exercises as well as riding on an almost daily basis. In time Theodore not only became strong and physically tough, but he also managed to outgrow the asthma which had plagued his childhood.

Though Theodore was a very active and bouncy boy, he was also fond of books, reading prolifically and delighting in his study of natural history. So interested was he in animals and other creatures that he founded "The Roosevelt Natural History Museum" and his poor family had to put up with Theodore’s collecting and preservation activities. It was a messy and smelly business and they all got pretty fed up with finding dead animals in the freezer and jars of specimens around the house. Theodore’s early interest in the natural world would grow into an abiding love for wild places and he would become one of most conservation minded presidents to live in the White House creating many large national parks all over the United States during his presidency.

Full of interesting little stories about Theodore Roosevelt and his family, this childhood biography of one of America’s most famous presidents would make an excellent introduction for young readers to the life of Theodore Roosevelt. We see that he was an interesting, compassionate, kind, and plucky boy who refused to let adversity stop him for doing what he wanted to do.