To Dare Mighty Things: The Life of Theodore Roosevelt (Big Words)

by Doreen Rappaport (Author) C F Payne (Illustrator)

To Dare Mighty Things: The Life of Theodore Roosevelt (Big Words)
Reading Level: 4th – 5th Grade
Series: Big Words
President Theodore Roosevelt is known as "the man with a plan," the "rough rider." His figure stands tall in American history; his legacy stretching him to larger-than-life proportions.

But before his rise to fame, he was just "Teedie," a boy with ambitious dreams to change the world, and the conviction to see his stupendous imaginings brought to fruition.

As an American president, he left an impressive mark upon his country. He promised a "square deal" to all citizens, he tamed big businesses, and protected the nation's wildlife and natural beauty. His fearless leadership assured that he would always be remembered, and his robust spirit now dares others to do mighty things.

In her moving picture book portrait, award-winning author Doreen Rappaport uses her well-honed approach of personal quotes and vivid prose to spin together the tale of a sickly boy who became a monumental man. Coupled with C. F. Payne's dramatic artwork, the story of President Teddy, touchstone of American history, is brought to life.
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Publishers Weekly

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. Author's agent: Faith Hamlin, Sanford J. Greenburger Associates. (Dec.)

Copyright 2013 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.

School Library Journal

Starred Review

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

Copyright 2013 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

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"
Doreen Rappaport
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.

Kadir Nelson is the illustrator of many books for children, including Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom by Carole Boston Weatherford, an NAACP Image Award winner, a Caldecott Honor Book, and a Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award winner; Ellington Was Not a Street by Ntozake Shange, a Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award winner; Please, Baby, Please and Please, Puppy, Please, by Spike Lee and Tonya Lewis Lee; and Will Smith's Just the Two of Us, also an NAACP Image Award winner. He is also the author/illustrator of We Are the Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball.
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication date
December 20, 2013
Big Words
BISAC categories
JNF025170 - Juvenile Nonfiction | History | United States/General
JNF007130 - Juvenile Nonfiction | Biography & Autobiography | Presidents & First Families (U.S.)
Library of Congress categories
United States
Roosevelt, Theodore
Flicker Tale Children's Book Award
Nominee 2016 - 2016
Sequoyah Book Awards
Nominee 2016 - 2016
Garden State Children's Book Awards
Nominee 2016 - 2016

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