A Boy Named FDR: How Franklin D. Roosevelt Grew Up to Change America


Franklin D. Roosevelt was born into one of the wealthiest families in America, yet this ultimate rich kid grew up to do more for ordinary Americans than any other president. This appealing picture book biography shows how, from childhood on, FDR  was compassionate, cheerful, determined, and enormously likable. Though he had private tutors as a young boy and later attended an elite boys' school, he played pranks and had down-to-earth fun just like any boy today. 


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Franklin D. Roosevelt was born into one of the wealthiest families in America, yet this ultimate rich kid grew up to do more for ordinary Americans than any other president. This appealing picture book biography shows how, from childhood on, FDR  was compassionate, cheerful, determined, and enormously likable. Though he had private tutors as a young boy and later attended an elite boys' school, he played pranks and had down-to-earth fun just like any boy today. 

Kathleen Krull's animated picture book biography focuses on FDR's childhood years through his entry as a young man into politics and his battle with polio. A summary of his achievements as president and a chronology of his life are included. The well-researched text and the evocative illustrations by Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher provide an inspiring introduction to one of our greatest presidents.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Krull (Kubla Khan: The Emperor of Everything) details how "the ultimate rich kid," who could have had a life of luxurious ease, grew up to become one of America's most renowned 20th-century leaders. The doted-upon only child of a wealthy New York couple, Franklin Delano Roosevelt—at one point Krull calls him "Fancy FDR"—had it all: "nurses, private teachers, butlers, cooks, housekeepers.... all he had to say was that he wanted something and it was given to him." Krull explains how Roosevelt's family, schools, spouse, struggle with polio, and famous cousin Teddy all influenced his concern for those less fortunate, with vignettes picturing a young Roosevelt passing out Christmas gifts to servants' children and working as a camp counselor for poor youth. Johnson and Fancher's (Sunday Is for God) full-page ink and oils radiate an almost Rockwellian nostalgia. Muted hues and soft edges, found even in a dynamic painting of Roosevelt sailing off the Maine coast, complement FDR's image as a warm and caring individual. Krull concludes with a time line of his life, augmented by quotations from Roo-sevelt himself. Ages 6–10. (Jan.)
School Library Journal
Gr 3–5—This handsome picture-book biography explains how a pampered, privileged child grew up to be our 32nd president, serving longer than any other president in U.S. history. Krull tells readers, "He had long blond curls and wore dresses with fancy lace collars till he was almost six." His parents indulged his every wish and were quick to forgive any mischief, yet instilled a social conscience in their golden boy from an early age, urging him to "Help the helpless!" After a sheltered childhood of homeschooling, Franklin left for boarding school at age 14. Despite his parents' plans for him to be a gentleman like his father, he was inspired to enter the world of politics by the headmaster at Groton; his cousin Teddy; and his future wife, Eleanor. Stricken with polio at 39, Franklin struggled to regain his strength, reentering the political arena three years later. An epilogue explains the stock market crash, Great Depression, New Deal, fireside chats, and World War II. Filled with anecdotes and quotes, the text is concise and engaging, working well as a read-aloud or for independent reading. The rich, impressionistic oil and ink illustrations capture the spirit of the man and his time. Less wordy and more attractive than Judith St. George and Britt Spencer's Make Your Mark, Franklin Roosevelt (Philomel. 2007), this offering also covers more of the subject's life. Famous quotations are appended.—Barbara Auerbach, PS 217, Brooklyn, NY
Kirkus Reviews

This team of three once again encapsulates the life of a famous figure with a childhood view, animated text and expressive oil-and-ink illustrations (The Boy on Fairfield Street, 2004). The unbiased, straightforward account focuses on how his idol and cousin, President Theodore Roosevelt, influenced Franklin Delano Roosevelt's life. He had a pampered, wealthy childhood—never spanked and taught at home, by age six he could write letters to his Mama in French and German. TR told FDR's class at Groton, "Much has been given to you; therefore, we have a right to expect much from you." At age 18, FDR told his classmates at Harvard he wanted to go into politics—and even be president! His dream became an ambition that wasn't deterred even when he was stricken with polio at age 39. Full-page, painterly artwork evokes the times and the determination of FDR, and Krull has a knack for ferreting out interesting anecdotes that humanize the facts. Informative backmatter provides a dated list of his life and famous words and sources. Well done.(Picture book/biography. 6-10)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780375857164
  • Publisher: Random House Children's Books
  • Publication date: 12/28/2010
  • Pages: 48
  • Sales rank: 521,815
  • Age range: 6 - 9 Years
  • Lexile: 930L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 8.60 (w) x 11.10 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Kathleen Krull’s many award-winning books of nonfiction include two others that focus on the childhood influences of great men: The Boy on Fairfield Street: How Ted Geisel Grew Up to Become Dr. Seuss and The Boy Who Invented TV: The Story of Philo Farnsworth.

Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher, a husband-and-wife team, are the illustrators of The Boy on Fairfield Street by Kathleen Krull, My Many Colored Days by Dr. Seuss, and New York’s Bravest by Mary Pope Osborne, as well as many other picture books of note.

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted February 24, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Highly Recommended

    This is a wonderful picture book about FDR, and I will definitely keep this book handy in my classroom. It is very accessible and tells some great stories from the young FDR's life. The book ends when he becomes president. The pictures in the book are wonderful and tell a great story in themselves and help support the text very well. Highly recommended.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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