Gutman, Dan (Illus. Allison Steinfeld). Teddy Roosevelt was a Moose? (Wait, What?). New York; Norton Young Readers, 2022.
Ever read a nonfiction for kids that is supposed to be funny and engaging, but is actually forced and not funny at all? This is not that kind of book. After a few obligatory pages of “what teachers want us to know” about TR (Dates of birth, death, marriage, presidency, etc), Teddy Roosevelt was a Moose? gives us the juicier lesser-known facts that show us he was a real person with complicated opinions.
Narrators Paige and her younger brother Turner (get it?), take us through ups and downs, trials and victories, and many adventures of Theodore Roosevelt’s life. For example, TR spoke at a rally right after he’d been shot in the chest. For 90 minutes. Before going to the hospital. The book is sprinkled with TR quotes that are just as relevant today as they were in his time. If it doesn’t hit students, it might hit adults that many of the ideas championed by TR are still actively debated today: conservation, anti-trust, gender equality, and more. Gutman brings to the front the contradictions in many of TR’s opinions and actions, and Paige and Turner debate whether TR is one of U.S. history’s good guys or bad guys, or if any historical figure, given the times in which they lived, can live up to what is expected of 21st Century good guys.
Teddy Roosevelt was a Moose? features light-hearted banter, but also puts serious historical facts into context and openly discusses the pros and cons of Roosevelt. Recommended for any elementary or middle school library biography section. Beyond K-8, this book could be used in high school classrooms to kick off debate about the portrayal of historical figures in modern society.
Dewey: 920 Interest Level: Grades 2-6
Awards and Reviews: Will release February 1, 2022.
Younger Readers might like: What To Do About Alice: How Alice Roosevelt broke the rules, charmed the world, and drove her father, Teddy, Crazy! by Barbara Kerley
Older Readers might like: Death on the River of Doubt by Samantha Seiple
Fiction Pairing: The Legend of the Teddy Bear by Frank Murphy
On the web: Take a virtual tour of the Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural National Historic Site at https://www.trsite.org/
Could you keep up with TR’s daily routine? This guy tried for 7 days! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9cj8TkwA1m4