To Dare Mighty Things: The Life of Theodore Roosevelt


President Theodore Roosevelt is known as "the man with a plan," the "rough rider." His figure stands tall in American history; his legacy stretching him to larger-than-life proportions.

But before his rise to fame, he was just "Teedie," a boy with ambitious dreams to change the world, and the conviction to see his stupendous imaginings brought to fruition.

As an American president, he left an impressive mark upon his country. He promised a ...

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President Theodore Roosevelt is known as "the man with a plan," the "rough rider." His figure stands tall in American history; his legacy stretching him to larger-than-life proportions.

But before his rise to fame, he was just "Teedie," a boy with ambitious dreams to change the world, and the conviction to see his stupendous imaginings brought to fruition.

As an American president, he left an impressive mark upon his country. He promised a "square deal" to all citizens, he tamed big businesses, and protected the nation's wildlife and natural beauty. His fearless leadership assured that he would always be remembered, and his robust spirit now dares others to do mighty things.

In her moving picture book portrait, award-winning author Doreen Rappaport uses her well-honed approach of personal quotes and vivid prose to spin together the tale of a sickly boy who became a monumental man. Coupled with C. F. Payne's dramatic artwork, the story of President Teddy, touchstone of American history, is brought to life.

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Editorial Reviews

The New York Times Book Review - Harold Holzer
…[a] lovely little volume on Theodore Roosevelt…Payne's pictures advance [Rappaport's] text with spirit and inventiveness…
Publishers Weekly
Rappaport continues her series of biographies that emphasize direct quotations from their subjects (including Helen’s Big World and Abe’s Honest Words) by studying the setbacks and successes of Theodore Roosevelt. The author proceeds chronologically, noting Roosevelt’s sickliness as a child (as well as his love of animals, which continued through his life), before moving on to his two marriages, service in the New York State Assembly and other public positions, the Rough Riders’ taking of San Juan Hill, and his accomplishments as president, after ascending to office following the McKinley assassination. Payne provides hazy, burnished illustrations that alternately reflect Roosevelt’s seriousness of purpose (he’s shown lassoing a giant fist clutching money as he takes on corporate trusts), playfulness (as in a White House scene crawling with children and pets), and love of nature (Rappaport outlines how Roosevelt helped conserve “230 million acres” of American land). A timeline and suggestions for further reading round out a biography that, despite its brevity, gives a full sense of Roosevelt’s life. Ages 6–8. Author’s agent: Faith Hamlin, Sanford J. Greenburger Associates. (Dec.)
Children's Literature - Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
Rappaport begins this biography of Theodore Roosevelt with his sickly childhood. Despite that, he is constantly studying, reading, and writing about all aspects of nature while exercising, hiking, and collecting animal, bird, and insect specimens. At Harvard he even writes a book. After he marries, he is elected the youngest member of the New York State Assembly. Distraught at the death of his wife, Roosevelt spends almost three years out in the Dakota Territory. We observe his support of the environment and his rise in politics, all the way to the presidency. Impressive quotations from Roosevelt fill the pages, supporting the narrative, until his death at 61. Payne's hyper-realistic portrait of the vital president stands vividly alone with no text on the front jacket/cover. The visual story is told in remarkably detailed double-page scenes, with several of the rugged environments in his life, including the Panama Canal and the Cuban military action. A timetable and a bibliography are included. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal
★ 12/01/2013
Gr 2–5—Once again, Rappaport offers an accessible introduction to one of the world's most influential people, punctuating her poignant narrative with well-chosen quotes that help frame the life of an important figure. Roosevelt stands tall in American history, but his childhood was one of serious illness that kept him bedridden for long periods of time. He became an avid reader and yearned for the life of the adventurers he read about. "Teedie," as he was called, longed to explore the wilderness and yearned to be a "fearless" man like his heroes. From his early political career through the challenges of his presidency, this book chronicles how he became that fearless leader. He confronted injustice head-on and promised a "Square Deal" to all citizens, opposed many special business interests, including the use of child labor, and sought to protect the nation's wildlife and preserve its beauty. The highs and lows of both his personal and public life are presented here, including the death of his beloved wife, his experience as a soldier with the "Rough Riders," and being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1906. Rappaport breathes life into her subject in a way that is sure to spark the interest of the most reluctant reader. Her choice of quotations defines the man's lively personality and charisma, and Payne's softly shaded artwork highlights his facial expressions and dramatically captures the robust emotion, good humor, and unstinting courage that are the hallmarks of the 26th president. Concisely written and yet poetic, this is a first purchase for every library. —Carole Phillips, Greenacres Elementary School, Scarsdale, NY
Kirkus Reviews
★ 2013-10-02
U.S. president Theodore Roosevelt certainly dared mighty things, and this lavish picture-book biography deftly captures the legendary man's bold, exuberant nature. Young "Teedie" Roosevelt wanted to be fearless like Daniel Boone and the Valley Forge soldiers he read about, but he was a sickly child. A dramatic full-bleed spread shows the quilt-wrapped Teedie reading in a big chair, visions of polar bears and eagles dancing in his head--an apt reflection of the boy who would go on to keep a giant tortoise in his room at Harvard and then to help protect America's wildlife. Roosevelt's private joys and sorrows as well as professional highlights from his Rough Rider days in Cuba to his 1906 Nobel Peace Prize are chronicled here in colorful, accessible prose, punctuated by character-illuminating quotations. This is a portrait of a passionate man who wanted to make a difference and did, as police commissioner or author, cattle rancher or U.S. president. Payne's expressive, muted paintings--quite grand when showcasing America's majestic landscapes--are full of warmth and humor befitting the joyful man who declared "No man has had a happier life than I have led; a happier life in every way." A truly inspiring tribute to a seemingly larger-than-life U.S. president. (timeline, selected research sources, bibliography, websites, acknowledgments) (Picture book/biography. 7-12)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781423124887
  • Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
  • Publication date: 12/17/2013
  • Pages: 48
  • Sales rank: 151,261
  • Age range: 6 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 10.10 (w) x 11.00 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Doreen Rappaport

Doreen Rappaport's non-fiction and historical fiction books have been acclaimed for their meticulous research and varied literary styles. She is the recipient of the Washington Post-Children's Book Guild lifetime achievement award for the writing of non-fiction. Among her many award-winning biographies are Martin's Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., illustrated by Bryan Collier, a Caldecott Honor Book, Coretta Scott King Book, Orbis Pictus Honor Book, and a Jane Addams Children's Book Award; Abe's Honest Words: The Life of Abraham Lincoln, illustrated by Kadir Nelson, CCBC Best Book of the Year, an IRA Teacher's Choice and Library of Virginia Whitney and Scott Cardoza Award. Her two latest biographies, Jack's Path of Courage and Helen's Big World are both illustrated by Matt Tavares. She lives and writes in upstate New York. Visit her at

C.F. Payne is an artist-illustrator whose work has graced the covers of Time Magazine, The New York Times Book Review, The Atlantic Monthly, and more. His picture books include Late for School by Steve Martin, Lineup for Yesterday by Ogden Nash, as well as The Remarkable Farkle McBride and Micawber, both by John Lithgow. His artwork has been exhibited at The Cincinnati Art Museum, The National Portrait Gallery, The Norman Rockwell Museum, The Society of Illustrators Museum of American Illustration, and The Selby Gallery at Ringling College of Art and Design. He currently teaches illustration at Columbus College of Art and Design, where he also serves as co-chair of the Illustration Department. Visit him at

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