The President's Daughter

The President's Daughter

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by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

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From the Newbery Honor and Schneider Award-winning author of The War that Saved My Life comes The President's Daughter, a  novel about the Roosevelts and perfect for fans of hisorical fiction.

   ETHEL IS 10 YEARS OLD in 1901 when her family’s life changed forever. Suddenly, Father is not only a famous cowboy, war…  See more details below


From the Newbery Honor and Schneider Award-winning author of The War that Saved My Life comes The President's Daughter, a  novel about the Roosevelts and perfect for fans of hisorical fiction.

   ETHEL IS 10 YEARS OLD in 1901 when her family’s life changed forever. Suddenly, Father is not only a famous cowboy, war hero, and politician, but also President Theodore Roosevelt, leader of the United States—and Ethel has a new place to call home. The White House is older and stuffier than Ethel imagined, but there’s never a dull moment with her adventurous family around. Ethel would love to spend every day following Father on horseback rides and scrambles through neighboring Rock Creek Park.
    Instead, Ethel has to stay at boarding school during the week, where nothing she does feels right and none of the girls seem to like her. Ethel’s parents keep telling her to keep her chin up and be patient, but it’s not easy being the president’s daughter. Ethel wishes she could be as courageous as father and make her family proud. When her fashionable older sister arrives home, Ethel feels new hope. Sister knows the secret of being brave and making friends, and she’s willing to share it. All Ethel needs to do is take one outrageous dare.

"[Bradley] makes Ethel a vivid and engaging presence and...[this novel is] a fascinating look at an intriguing world."-Kirkus Reviews

"A fascinating story."-Booklist

"Loaded with historical details...the novel rings true and the people come to life."-SLJ

"Fascinating glimpses of pre-World War I Washington and one of the liveliest families to ever occupy the White House."-The Bulletin

From the Hardcover edition.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature
We have often heard of the antics of Theodore Roosevelt's sons in the White House and his daughter Alice lived to tell stories until 1980. But we hear very little about Ethel, Roosevelt's second daughter. Kimberly Brubaker Bradley explains in her very useful notes that her book is a work of fiction, but she has tried to be as true and accurate as possible. We learn for example that Ethel and her family are quite concerned about Theodore's safety, especially since he became president after the assassination of William McKinley. We know that the young Roosevelts brought a rat, guinea pigs, horses, dogs and cats to the White House and that Alice frequently came to family dinners with her pet snake wrapped around her neck. Bradley takes that information a step further and imagines the impact all that had on the White House staff! She brings a reality to the Roosevelts that is not apparent in formal family portraits—Theodore wrestling with his sons and leading diplomats, congressmen and children alike on muddy scrambles through Rock Creek Park. He always insists that everyone go "over or under but not around" any obstacle in the path. Ethel finds the advice quite useful as a way to begin slowly accepting her new situation as a boarding student at the Cathedral School for Girls—a student who happens to be the daughter of the president. The story moves slowly and seems repetitive at times but there are fascinating glimpses of pre-World War I Washington and one of the liveliest families to ever occupy the White House. 2004, Random House, Ages 8 to 14.
—Karen Leggett
School Library Journal
Gr 5-7-Ethel's life changes in an instant when her father, Theodore Roosevelt, becomes President of the U.S. after the McKinley assassination. The 10-year-old and her family move into the Executive Mansion, which Roosevelt renames the White House. It is a dark, musty place, filled with worn and garish furnishings. That doesn't stop Ethel and her brothers from having fun roller-skating in the basement and sneaking up to the roof. The girl is miserable, though, when her parents send her to the National Cathedral School. Being the president's daughter doesn't necessarily make life or finding friends any easier. She lives for the weekends when she can go home and dreads the return to school on Monday mornings. It's not until her older sister, Alice, challenges her to crawl under the table at a dinner in the East Room that Ethel finds the courage to fit in at school. Loaded with historical details, including Booker T. Washington's controversial invitation to dinner, the novel rings true and the people come to life. Ethel finds that along with privileges comes scrutiny from the press and the public, and the story aptly shows the dichotomy between the two. An author's note is included.-Kristen Oravec, Cuyahoga County Public Library, Strongsville, OH Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
It's 1901, and ten-year-old Ethel's father has just become president after McKinley's assassination. As seen through Ethel's eyes, this story of the first few months of Theodore Roosevelt's presidency is a genuine page-turner, rich with historical detail. Ethel adores her lively, intelligent mother, her nature-loving war-hero father, and her tumble of brothers and their pets. She's especially close to Alice Roosevelt, her 17-year-old stepsister. But Ethel must attend boarding school Monday through Friday. She misses her wild and woolly family and is confused and upset by the other girls' gossip about her-the newspapers were as frenzied then as now. Bradley expertly weaves in some hilarious-and true-set pieces: Ethel crawling under the table at a state dinner to put a note in her father's lap on a dare; Alice making up descriptions of her own and her stepmother's gowns for the newspapers because they didn't have different ones for every occasion; the president playing "Bear" with his sons. She makes Ethel a vivid and engaging presence and her struggles for acceptance at school ring true. A fascinating look at an intriguing world. (photographs, author's note, bibliography) (Historical fiction. 8-12)

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Product Details

Random House Children's Books
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2 MB
Age Range:
9 - 12 Years

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Father's foot swung back and forth, tick, tock, tick, tock, in time with the clock on the wall. It was nearly ten o'clock at night. Tuesday, September 13, 1901. We were assembled in the parlor of the main lodge of the Tahawus Club, a resort in the Adirondack Mountains in upper New York state. Usually I would have been asleep already, but not that night. We were waiting for a telegram.

Father stared hard at the page of the book he was reading, almost hard enough to make the words pop off the page. I half expected them to--Father could do anything--but I knew better.

He turned the page. He turned another. Page after page, so fast I knew he wasn't really reading, though Father read faster than anyone I knew, faster even than Mother, who read all the time. Father did everything fast.

He hated waiting. We all did.

Mother looked up from her own book. She said, "Wouldn't you feel better if--"

"Not hardly!" Father snapped. "I'm not going until I'm sent for. Been there once already. I'd be like an old vulture, hovering over him. Dreadful."

Normally Father wouldn't cut Mother off like that, and she wouldn't stand for it if he did. But that night Father smacked another page of his book and Mother just shook her head. "His poor wife," she murmured. "What on earth will she do?"

I didn't ask whom she meant. I knew. I might have been only ten years old, but I paid attention to everything. Mrs. McKinley, the president's wife, was an invalid. At state dinners the president had to sit beside her, instead of across the table the way he was supposed to, so that if she had an epileptic fit he could cover her face with his napkin. At the inaugural ball, my big sister, Alice, sat on the arm of Mrs. McKinley's chair without ever noticing that Mrs. McKinley was sitting in it. Afterward Sister told Mother that she hadn't meant to be rude.

I didn't get to go to the ball, but I did meet Mrs. McKinley at the inauguration, before the swearing in. She was so lifeless and still, she reminded me of one of Quentin's wax dolls. President McKinley was kind but not joyful. Sister said he had the personality of a mackerel. "Next to him," she said, "Father's brighter than the sun."

Next to most people Father was brighter than the sun. So was Sister, for that matter.

I had wondered if Mrs. McKinley would talk more when she wasn't surrounded by crowds. I had wondered if she would invite Mother to tea in the fall; maybe I could go too. Now I guessed not. A week before, President McKinley had been shot in the stomach while attending the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, New York. At first everyone had thought he was going to recover, but now it looked as if they were wrong.

Quentin, my littlest brother, who ought to have been in bed two hours before, climbed onto Father's knee. "Are you an old vulture?" he shouted. "Or are you a bear?"

Quentin was only three. He didn't understand. Father played bear with Quentin and Archie, and sometimes with Kermit and me, almost every night. Not that night, though. Archie, who was seven, looked up from the parlor rug with grave anxiety. Archie did understand.

"I'll take him, sir." Mame, our ancient Irish nurse, rose from the sofa and held out her arms. Quentin ducked and tried to bury himself beneath Father's elbow. Father wrapped his arms around Quentin.

"He can stay," Mother said softly. "Just for tonight, Mame. If you're tired, go ahead to bed. I'll take care of the children." Mame hesitated, but her back had been hurting all day. She went out of the parlor. I could hear her steps down the hall, and the front door opening and shutting. The cabin we were staying in was just across from the main lodge.

Quentin fell asleep. Father adjusted his spectacles, moved Quentin more securely into the crook of his arm, and shut his book. His crossed foot still swung in the air. Tick, tock.

Archie reenacted the battle of Kettle Hill with his tin soldiers on the rug. The rest of us sprawled across the sofas and chairs. We were taking up the entire parlor, and I hoped none of the other guests minded. We'd come to the Adirondacks for two weeks of vaction after Archie caught chicken pox, Quentin stuck a mothball up his nose, Sister got an abscess in her jaw, Ted got bronchitis, Quentin got an ear infection, I got poison ivy, and Mother almost had a breakdown. Father had been away much of the summer giving speeches, but he'd joined us three days before. The day before, Kermit and I had hiked with him halfway up Mount Marcy and stayed overnight in a hunting cabin. In the morning it was raining, and the first telegram came, saying that McKinley was worse.

"Why haven't the other guests come into the parlor?" I asked.

"They could if they wished to," Mother said.

"Respect," my oldest brother, Ted, said. "Privacy."

"They weren't worried about privacy before," I said. On the first day Father got here, all the guests and staff lined up to shake his hand. He told them the story of the cougar he killed on his last hunting trip to the Badlands, and they applauded. It was a good story, but I thought they would have applauded a bad one too. Everywhere we went, people wanted to talk to Father.

Kermit, who was almost twelve, put down his book of poetry and looked at me.

"What?" I said.

"Think," he said.

I frowned. "Does everyone here know why we're waiting?"

"I imagine so," he said.

I pursed my lips at him. Sometimes Kermit had too much imagination.

"Nonsense," muttered Father.

"Yes," Mother murmured. "Yes, Ethel. They do."

Ted's face twitched. This was his fourteenth birthday, a fact that had gotten lost after the morning's news even though we'd tried to celebrate it at dinner. Ted was Father's namesake, a hard thing to be. None of us could match Father, but I knew Ted felt obliged to try.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Meet the Author

Kimberly Brubaker Bradley has written several historical novels. She lives on a farm in Tennessee with her husband and two young children.

From the Hardcover edition.

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4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
What an excellent book to read to learn about Theodore Roosevelt and his family! I loved this historical fictipn book because the author included so many researched facts about Ethel and her family.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
This has to be the best book i have ever read!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! you will adore it
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a great historical fiction book about the president's daughter.I love it,I thougt it really showed the good parts and bad parts about being the president's daughter.If you ask me, everyone should read this book,it's a WINNER!!!!!!!!