Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

The President’s Daughter

The President’s Daughter

Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
Historical Fiction
For ages 8 to 12
Random House, 2004   ISBN: 978-0385731478

When President McKinley dies after being shot, Ethel and the other Roosevelt children have to accept that there are going to be many changes in their lives for now their father is the President of the United States. The family are going to have to move into the very uncomfortable and uncosy Executive Mansion in Washington D.C. This is not the worst of things however for as far as Ethel is concerned the worst thing of all is having to put up with the fact that she is going to have to go to school. Up until now Ethel has been educated at home and that is the way she likes things. Now however she has to attend a boarding school during the week and she can only be with her family on the weekends.

Ethel soon learns that there are definite disadvantages to being the president's daughter. For one thing people talk about you behind your back all the time and it is hard to make friends. Also people ask you all sorts of annoying and embarrassing questions which you would much rather not have to answer at all. Ethel gets through the school week by thinking about what she is going to do on the weekend when she is once more with her mother, her boisterous father, and her many siblings. Every weekend she also tries to convince her parents that she hates her school and wants to come home and every weekend they tell her that she has to keep on trying and that things will get better in time.

Eventually Ethel is given some very valuable advice which helps her figure out what she needs to do to make her life happier. Ethel's older stepsister Alice comes to stay at the White House and though she can be quite odd and difficult at times, Alice (or "Sister" as everyone calls her) does have some very useful ideas to share with Ethel which help the little girl adjust to her new life as the president's daughter.

Beautifully written and obviously researched with great care this is a book which gives a lesser historical figure a little bit of much needed attention. Ethel Roosevelt lived, like everyone else in her family, in the shadow of her larger-than-life father. He was certainly a hard act to follow and yet it would seem that this little girl had a very definite place in her family circle. It is interesting to read about the inner workings of the Roosevelt family as seen from the inside, as seen from the point of view of a child. Kimberly Brubaker Bradley captures Ethel's voice and personality and gives her great presence and charm.