What To Do About Alice? by Barbara Kerley, illustrated by Edwin Fotheringham
Like many a fairy tale king, a politically-powerful father expected a daughter born in 1884 to behave in certain ways – ways that involved things like obedience, ladylike interests, calm and proper daily activities.
Alice Roosevelt had her own ideas about how to live her life.
Perhaps she inherited some of her father’s adventurous spirit (remember Teddy Roosevelt – Rough Riders, bears, capturing outlaws, governor of New York, Vice President of the United States, President of the United States). Or perhaps, she just was her own person, with her own energetic, curious spirit.
Alice wanted to bounce on her grandparents’ sofa, have piggyback rides on her father’s back, and pretend to be a wild horse in the park. Alice wanted to do things, to go places, and to meet people.
Alice convinced her father to “let me loose in your library” instead of going to a proper girl’s boarding school. She taught herself many subjects: astronomy, geology, Greek. And read things by Twain, Dickens, and Darwin.
Alice took on the role of a goodwill ambassador. She traveled and met with new people. Her father praised her work, but warned her not to talk with reporters, and to stay on her best behavior as befitted the daughter of the president.
Alice stayed true to her spirit. She drove her own car (instead of riding in a carriage). She danced late into the night. Her father received letters saying Alice’s behavior was outrageous. But, Alice was popular with the people. There was a popular song written for her, a color named after her, and ‘Alice’ was a popular baby name.
In 1905, Roosevelt began his second term as president. Alice joined a delegation heading to Asia. She had many adventures and returned four months later. Alice married a congressman in a grand wedding with eight hundred guests. Alice continued to be active in politics. She became one of her father’s trusted advisers and champions.
This is a lively story with bright illustrations full of activity. Alice Roosevelt makes a wonderful hero – and a nice reminder of a real, strong, independent girl.