What You Need to Know:|
• Being Teddy Roosevelt is a funny, lighthearted story about a boy who wants to play the saxophone.
• The easy humor and entertaining story belie the fact that there are deeper things happening here, including divorce,
an absentee dad, and living near the poverty line.
• These big subjects are handled carefully and appropriately for this age level.
• There is a great deal of history going on in the story, too. Beyond learning about Teddy Roosevelt, the reader
will learn a little about Gandhi, Queen Elizabeth I, Helen Keller and others.
The main character in Being Teddy Roosevelt is Riley, a fourth grade dreamer who can't seem to remember things. He is distracted and has a hard time maintaining B's and C's on his report card. When his teacher assigns everyone a historical figure for the biography tea, Riley gets Teddy Roosevelt. The class needs to write a four page report on their famous person and come to the tea in costume. Riley dreads the assignment.
On the same day the biography project is announced, the fourth grade is introduced to the Instrumental Music Department. Fourth graders are now allowed to play an instrument. Teddy falls in love with the saxophone. Nothing at school has made him feel this excited, ever. But his excitement is quickly diminished when he hears that an instrument costs $25 per month to rent. Riley knows his mom can't afford that. His dad rarely sends them money, and his mom has to stretch to make ends meet. Riley feels defeated.
Riley puts dreams of the saxophone aside and starts his report on Teddy Roosevelt. Learning about such a strong character inspires Riley to work harder. Riley digs into his research, getting more motivated as he learns about Roosevelt's hardships and how he overcame them. Riley begins to understand that Roosevelt fought for what he wanted and never gave up. Riley decides he is going to figure out a way to get that saxophone. In the end, Riley receives his first ever A- and finds a saxophone to call his own!
The author packs a big punch in this little first chapter book. While tackling issues of divorce, lack of child support and poverty, she crafts a really enjoyable and meaningful story. Even with those big issues, Being Teddy Roosevelt is never anything but kid friendly. This story will also help children learn how to express empathy toward others. Finally, this story will teach young readers a great deal of history! Mills makes the history so interesting that readers won't even notice they are learning.
2012, 112 pages
Books for Boys, Family Life, Friendship, Music, History
• What famous person would you like to study?
• Have you ever really wanted something that you were not able to have?
• What was it? Were you ever able to attain it? How?
• Which character are you most like? Riley, Grant, Sophie or Erika? Why?
• Could you think of any other ways Riley could have gotten a saxophone?
• Would you ever go so far as Grant did to impersonate your biography subject? Why or why not?
Full disclosure - We receive review copies. We're not compensated for our reviews.
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