To Dare Mighty Things: The Life of Theodore Roosevelt

(Author) (Illustrator)

Product Details

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publish Date
10.3 X 11.0 X 0.5 inches | 1.05 pounds

Earn by promoting books

Earn money by sharing your favorite books through our Affiliate program.

Become an affiliate

About the Author

Doreen Rappaport has written numerous award-winning books for children, including Freedom Ship and The School Is Not White (both illustrated by Curtis James); Martin's Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a Caldecott Honor Book and Coretta Scott King Honor Book illustrated by Bryan Collier; and John's Secret Dreams: The Life of John Lennon, also illustrated by Bryan Collier.


In her latest picture book biography, Rappaport capably distills Theodore Roosevelt's life with the help of her trademark primary source quotations interspersed throughout the main text. "Teedie" was a sickly child with a strong intellect and a persistent will. Those latter qualities would serve him well in his adult life, starting with a term in the New York State Assembly and moving on to leadership positions including governor, vice president, and (upon the assassination of William McKinley) president of the United States. Roosevelt had a double standard when it came to other countries interfering in Latin America, but he successfully built the Panama Canal; his domestic agenda included curbing big business and conserving natural resources. Rappaport's account of Roosevelt's political career is balanced with brief but intimate glimpses into his two marriages and family life. As good as Rappaport's text is, however, Payne's illustrations-which seem to straddle the worlds of fine art and political cartoon-are even better, and allow him to capture Roosevelt's multifaceted, larger-than-life personality. On one spread, Payne depicts a fiery Roosevelt lecturing an uninterested legislature; on the next, he shows the man astride his horse in the Dakota Territory with snow falling gently, head bowed in grief at the death of his beloved first wife; and on yet another, he shows the rambunctious Roosevelt clan tearing around the White House. A timeline and bibliography are included. jonathan hunt Horn Book"
Surely there must be a muse in charge of connecting subject with biographer-that would account for such notable pairings as Isaac Newton with Kathleen Krull (Isaac Newton, BCCB 5/06), or Charles and Emma Darwin with Deborah Heiligman (Charles and Emma, BCCB 2/09). Now Theodore Roosevelt, whose outsized life demands an oversized format, and whose audacious pronouncements demand a biographer willing to let him speak for himself, finds his way into Doreen Rappaport's Big Words series, and the match-making goddess scores again. Roosevelt was arguably the most frenetic of U. S. Presidents, and his renowned energy and multitudinous enthusiasms-both personal and political-are admirably conveyed in the litany of efforts and accomplishments compressed into this fast-moving text. On route to the Big Achievements of TR's life--San Juan Hill, conservation advocacy, and of course the U.S. Presidency-Rappaport can only pause briefly at such career highlights as his civil service shake-up ("Republican lawmakers . . . sighed with relief when Teddy left") and his stint as New York Police Commissioner (again, a new set of "Republican lawmakers . . . sighed with relief when Teddy left"). The very speed at which political appointments and elected offices fly past is a vital characteristic of TR's life, and if readers are left a bit breathless, so much the better. While the overall tone of the narration could be described as amused awe at Roosevelt's expansive and largely realized progressive agenda, his questionable judgment concerning war with Spain over Cuba and his overreach of authority in Panama are addressed as well: "Roosevelt wanted to buy land in Panama to build a canal connecting the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. Panama's government refused. . . . I took the Canal Zone and let Congress debate; while the debate goes on, the canal does also.'" Political bluster and bravado are balanced with attention to TR's domestic life, though, and here readers meet a down-to-earth kid to whom they can relate: "He collected animal and bird specimens and created a museum in his room. He smelled. The whole house smelled. All growing boys tend to be grubby; but the ornithological boy is the grubbiest of all.'" It's no wonder TR would grow into the man known for the rambunctiousness of his White House sojourn: "Evenings often ended with pillow fights, wrestling matches, and throwing water balloons off the roof. [Wife] Edith said that Teddy was her seventh child." A strong current of humor also runs through Payne's grittily textured mixed media paintings. There's heroism in the composition of the Rough Riders' charge up San Juan Hill, but it's equally clear that Roosevelt was loving every minute of the battle: "The charge itself was great fun. Oh, but we had a bully fight." An inventive spread wryly suggests a touch of ambivalence as outdoorsman Teddy approaches his marriage among New York gentility with both feet rooted in a Western scene, while his elbow inc BCCB"
With superb illustrations and a biographical account written by an award-winning author, the story of Theodore Roosevelt comes alive in this beautiful picture book. Teddy grew up as a sickly boy who went on to become the youngest member of the New York State Assembly, New York City Police Commissioner, leader of the Rough Riders, Vice President, and President of the United States. Detailed drawings depict him at the various stages of his life. The descriptions and illustrations lead to a vivid visual image of how a President came to be and about the way he conducted himself during some of the most influential times of his life. Quotes highlighting his views are found throughout. A timeline of important events and selected resources are provided. This unique picture book biography provides an account of a significant man who influenced others throughout his life. Holly Weimar, Associate Professor, Sam Houston State University, Library Science Department, Huntsville, Texas Highly Recommended Library Media Connection"
U.S. president Theodore Roosevelt certainly dared mighty things, and this lavish picture-book biography deftly captures the legendary man's bold, exuberant nature. Young "Teedie" Roosevelt wanted to be fearless like Daniel Boone and the Valley Forge soldiers he read about, but he was a sickly child. A dramatic full-bleed spread shows the quilt-wrapped Teedie reading in a big chair, visions of polar bears and eagles dancing in his head-an apt reflection of the boy who would go on to keep a giant tortoise in his room at Harvard and then to help protect America's wildlife. Roosevelt's private joys and sorrows as well as professional highlights from his Rough Rider days in Cuba to his 1906 Nobel Peace Prize are chronicled here in colorful, accessible prose, punctuated by character-illuminating quotations. This is a portrait of a passionate man who wanted to make a difference and did, as police commissioner or author, cattle rancher or U.S. president. Payne's expressive, muted paintings-quite grand when showcasing America's majestic landscapes-are full of warmth and humor befitting the joyful man who declared "No man has had a happier life than I have led; a happier life in every way." A truly inspiring tribute to a seemingly larger-than-life U.S. president. (timeline, selected research sources, bibliography, websites, acknowledgments) (Picture book/biography. 7-12) Kirkus"
Rappaport continues her series of biographies that emphasize direct quotations from their subjects (including Helen's Big World and Abe's Honest Words) by studying the setbacks and successes of Theodore Roosevelt. The author proceeds chronologically, noting Roosevelt's sickliness as a child (as well as his love of animals, which continued through his life), before moving on to his two marriages, service in the New York State Assembly and other public positions, the Rough Riders' taking of San Juan Hill, and his accomplishments as president, after ascending to office following the McKinley assassination. Payne provides hazy, burnished illustrations that alternately reflect Roosevelt's seriousness of purpose (he's shown lassoing a giant fist clutching money as he takes on corporate trusts), playfulness (as in a White House scene crawling with children and pets), and love of nature (Rappaport outlines how Roosevelt helped conserve "230 million acres" of American land). A timeline and suggestions for further reading round out a biography that, despite its brevity, gives a full sense of Roosevelt's life. Ages 6 8. PW"
Theodore Roosevelt's big ideas and big personality come together in this splendid picture-book biography. Most readers won't know who Roosevelt is, but they will be drawn into the book by the laughing portrait on the otherwise wordless cover. Once inside, they'll be hooked by Rappaport's portrait of young "Teedie," a sickly child, who is nonetheless high-spirited and curious about everything. And he's determined to do as his father insists: make over his body so that it is as strong as his mind. The book's artful design uses two-page spreads to convey Roosevelt's wide-ranging interests and experiences-charging up San Juan Hill; isolating himself in the Dakota territory, after the death of his first wife; even struggling to bust trusts to help small companies compete (here the image is of a small Roosevelt roping a huge hand tightly holding a wad of money). About the only picture that doesn't really work is, ironically, is the dully colored spread that discusses TR's conservation efforts. The text neatly balances brevity and information, and key quotes are in a bold font that draws the eye. Occasionally, events could have been tied together more smoothly, but overall this is a terrific introduction to a one of America's most energetic and far-sighted presidents. - Ilene Cooper Booklist"
Gr 2-5 Once again, Rappaport offers an accessible introduction to one of the world's most influential people, punctuating her poignant narrative with well-chosen quotes that help frame the life of an important figure. Roosevelt stands tall in American history, but his childhood was one of serious illness that kept him bedridden for long periods of time. He became an avid reader and yearned for the life of the adventurers he read about. "Teedie," as he was called, longed to explore the wilderness and yearned to be a "fearless" man like his heroes. From his early political career through the challenges of his presidency, this book chronicles how he became that fearless leader. He confronted injustice head-on and promised a "Square Deal" to all citizens, opposed many special business interests, including the use of child labor, and sought to protect the nation's wildlife and preserve its beauty. The highs and lows of both his personal and public life are presented here, including the death of his beloved wife, his experience as a soldier with the "Rough Riders," and being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1906. Rappaport breathes life into her subject in a way that is sure to spark the interest of the most reluctant reader. Her choice of quotations defines the man's lively personality and charisma, and Payne's softly shaded artwork highlights his facial expressions and dramatically captures the robust emotion, good humor, and unstinting courage that are the hallmarks of the 26th president. Concisely written and yet poetic, this is a first purchase for every library. Carole Phillips, Greenacres Elementary School, Scarsdale, NY SLJ"