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Kerley, B., & Fotheringham, E. (ill.) (2008). What to do about Alice?: how Alice Roosevelt broke the rules, charmed the world, and drove her father Teddy crazy!. New York: Scholastic Press. ISBN: 9780439922319

Annotation: Theodore Roosevelt’s oldest daughter, Alice, is a sassy lady who plays by her own rules, much to the consternation of her father.

Reaction: I loved this book! Once I saw a book about Teddy’s daughter on a classmate’s Favorites list, I knew I needed to read it, and I’m so glad I did. It was SUCH a delight. Alice Roosevelt is a hoot, and I need her to be my new best friend right now!

Kerley does a great job of using the text and quotes from letters from Teddy and other writings to capture Alice’s vivacity and adventurousness. I love reading about women who were “ahead of [their] time” and refused to conform to arbitrary social regulations about what women were and were not capable of doing. I think it’s great for girls, especially ages 10-12, to be given examples of these positive role models who paved the way for ladies to come. Alice is a particularly good example of this kind of role model; she shows girls that they can be fun and mischievous and smart and well educated and passionate and make a difference in the world around them. And I don’t know about anyone else, but I definitely want to run right out and learn more about this awesome lady.

Fotheringham’s art does a fantastic job of capturing her spirit and zest, and I look forward to reading more books illustrated by him. He takes Kerley’s already funny text and elevates the book to hilarious, particularly his illustrations of Alice’s all-boys club sneaking around in disguises, and her sobbing in her bed surrounded by used handkerchiefs all summer after she is told she’ll have to attend boarding school.

I think this book could be beneficial in 5th and 6th grade history units to show all students the important role she (and other women like her) played in the shaping of the country. Using this book in a classroom would also be an opportunity to explore some aspects of US History that are not always examined, particularly her travels abroad.

Among other honors, this book was a ALA Notable Book and was on the Best Books of the Year lists for Publishers Weekly, School Library Journal and Kirkus Reviews.

This book is one of my Top Ten Favorites for this class.

This duo also wrote Those Rebels, John & Tom.

Media Used: Digital media

Author’s Website

Illustrator’s Website

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