Alice Roosevelt was a challenging child. She was adventurous, curious, and rejected other people’s pity. Her father, Theodore Roosevelt, adored her, but didn’t always feel sure that she wouldn’t publicly embarrass him and destroy his career. As she grew up, Alice traveled the world. Her wild behavior caused a stir, incensing conservatives and charming pretty much everyone else. She eventually married a congressman and did some of her own politicking behind the scenes.
This picture book biography has won several awards and received excellent reviews from several established publications. The author seems to have no special expertise outside of a long publication history. The text seems well-rooted in fact, if occasionally embellished. An Author’s Note with details about Alice Roosevelt’s life is included, but there is no bibliography.
The layout is chronological and clear, beginning with Alice’s birth and ending in adulthood. There are no chapter headings, and there is not an index or table of contents, but as the book is very short, the absence should not cause difficulties for readers.
The illustrations are fantastic. Alice Roosevelt is well-described, but the illustrations make her seem completely delightful and adorably overconfident. The illustrations also do a wonderful job of capturing Theodore Roosevelt’s dismay. The color scheme is lovely, and it, along with the details of dress, somehow helps the reader remember that this is a story that took place many years ago. The words that are occasionally emphasized with different fonts throughout the story add greatly to the story, especially as many of them seem to be direct quotes.
The book certainly does not convey too much information, and the Author’s Note at the end is good at helping to connect the story to the real history. The author is clearly enthusiastic about Alice’s story and admires her swagger. The book left me feeling like I didn’t have quite the whole story, but that might not be a criticism of the book; it is possible that the book simply intrigued me enough to track down a full biography of Alice Roosevelt.
Publisher’s Weekly gave WHAT TO DO ABOUT ALICE? a starred review and stated, “It’s hard to imagine a picture book biography that could better suit its subject than this high-energy volume serves young Alice Roosevelt.” A starred review from Booklist also praised the book’s “rambunctious spirit” and added, “The large format gives Fotheringham, in his debut, plenty of room for spectacular art” (Barbara Kerley “My Books” 2015).
Sibert Honor Book
ALA Notable Book
Boston Globe-Horn Book Honor Book
Irma Black Award Honor Book
Parents Choice Award
Best Books of the Year — Publishers Weekly
Best Books of the Year — School Library Journal
Best Books of the Year — Kirkus Reviews
Washington State Scandiuzzi Children’s Book Award
New York Public Library 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing
Nominated for Young Reader Awards in Texas, Illinois, Utah, and Tennessee
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The color Alice Blue was named after Alice Roosevelt and matches the color of her eyes. Barbara Kerley’s website recommends using primary colors to mix a color that best represents you (Barbara Kerley “My Books” 2015).
You can also try twisting a common quotation to make a new one, like the one below. “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all” is nicer, but less funny, than Alice’s twist.
“Alice Roosevelt Longworth with Parrot.” Accessed October 12, 2015. From Wikimedia Commons. Public Domain. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Alice_Roosevelt_Longworth_with_parrot_cph.3b19103.jpg
Barbara Kerley: Children’s Book Author. Accessed October 12, 2015. “My Books: WHAT TO DO ABOUT ALICE?” http://www.barbarakerley.com/Site/What_To_Do_About_Alice.html
Kerley, Barbara, and Ed Fotheringham. 2008. WHAT TO DO ABOUT ALICE: HOW ALICE ROOSEVELT BROKE THE RULES, CHARMED THE WORLD, AND DROVER HER FATHER TEDDY CRAZY! New York: Scholastic Press. ISBN 9780439922319
Quote attributed to Alice Roosevelt Longworth. Created on QuotesCover.com.