February 17, 2011
You’re on Your Way, Teddy Roosevelt by Judith St. George
by Judith St. George
illustrated by Matt Faulkner
Say Teddy Roosevelt and most people think of a big, imposing man strutting around saying, “Bully!” I’m not saying that’s accurate, but it is what it is — the common image.
St. George immediately sets this image on its ear. The first image is of a sickly, small boy named Teedie who is struggling to breathe. Fortunately, Papa comes to the rescue and paces the floor, cradling the future president.
Teedie continues to struggle with his asthma even when his parents take the family to the country for the summer. Teedie falls head over heals for the outdoors and the many creatures he finds there. He leads his siblings on imaginative adventures.
When they returned to New York City, Teedie started a nature museum in his room. He even managed to collect a live snapping turtle. Soon, the maid refused to enter.
But asthma continued to plague Teedie. When his family journeyed to Europe for a year, he climbed mountains and explored museums — when he was well enough to do so.
An avid reader and student of nature, Teedie quickly developed his mind but his small, thin body lagged behind until his father encouraged him to join a gym — not common practice in those days. His mother accompanied young Teedie who worked hard and eventually grew stronger and more sure of himself.
Fun as he is, Teddy Roosevelt isn’t someone with whom young children readily identify, but Teedie is another story. Small, sick and bullied yet imaginative and passionate about nature, Teedie is someone young readers will feel an affinity for that will help them relate to the man that he eventually became.