Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

The Remarkable rough-riding Life of Theodore Roosevelt and the Rise of Empire Am

The Remarkable rough-riding Life of Theodore Roosevelt and the Rise of Empire Am

Cheryl Harness
For ages 10 and up
National Geographic, 2007   ISBN: 978-1426300080

He began life as a sickly baby and he was, for many years, a very frail little boy who was stricken with asthma. Teedie, as his family called him, often took refuge from his many illnesses in books, though he also had an avid interest in natural history and created a little museum of sorts in his New York City home. There came a day though when Theodore Roosevelt’s loving father told his son that he had to find a way to make his body stronger. Theodore adored his father, and wanting to please him, he set about the job with a will. And, with an enormous amount of hard work lifting weights and doing other exercises, the weak boy grew into a strong young man.

Theodore went to Harvard, married a lovely young woman called Alice Lee, and decided to follow in his father’s footsteps by choosing a life in politics where he hoped he would be able to do some good for the people in his city. Theodore quickly showed his colleagues and his constituents that he, unlike so many other politicians, was capable of seeing the needs of the working poor.

When his lovely young wife died soon after giving birth to their daughter, Theodore was grief stricken and he took some time off to recover. But when he got back from a sojourn in the Dakota Badlands he threw himself back into his work. He got married to a childhood friend, Edith Carow, and in 1889 he got his first job in Washington. He was in Washington for his second appointment when the Spanish-American war broke out. Theodore was, quite frankly, delighted when this conflict began and he promptly volunteered to go to war. It was his exemplary service in Cuba which really caught the attention of the public, and when he got back home he had no difficulty winning the election for the position of Governor of New York.

Theodore was a real thorn in the side of the New York political machine and many of the men who ran that machine were eager to get rid of him. They thought that they were being very clever when they managed to persuade President McKinley to take Theodore on as his Vice President. They never imagined that Theodore would end up in the White House, but this is just what happened, thanks to an assassin’s bullet.

Many people, especially those in big business, came to regret the day when Theodore was chosen for the Vice Presidency, for Theodore was a hard working president. He was not afraid to ruffle feathers. He did what he thought was best and if he made enemies in the process so be it. He fought hard to have the Panama Canal built and he set about creating a system of national parks, a system which millions of people enjoy today.

Cheryl Harness has once again created a biography which is incredibly entertaining, very easy to read, and which is packed with all kinds of information about the times in which Theodore Roosevelt lived. Her writing style is often delightfully amusing and it is perfectly suited to a younger audience. She makes history interesting and brings it to life showing her audience that history need not be stuffy and boring. Instead it can be engaging and have relevance to our lives today.

As with all her titles in this series, this book is packed with wonderful black and white illustrations. There are maps, portraits, scenes from Theodore’s life, and a timeline at the bottom of almost every page.