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The President's Daughter    by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley order for
President's Daughter
by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
Order:  USA  Can
Delacorte, 2004 (2004)
* *   Reviewed by J. A. Kaszuba Locke

This is a fictional account of the childhood of Ethel Roosevelt. She had four brothers and an older half-sister, named Alice but called Sister. Ethel was the daughter of the Theodore and Edith Roosevelt. Her father was a famed cowboy, a war hero, and a politician, who ascended to the presidency after the assassination of president William McKinley.

Ethel preferred to live at home, but reluctantly attended boarding school for five years at the National Cathedral School for Girls, travelling home on weekends. It was not easy being daughter of a president, and she found it difficult to make friends. Classmates taunted her for some of her father's activities reported in the media, such as dining with the famed Booker T. Washington. The president said 'Some people won't like a president no matter what he does.' The Roosevelt boys also made the headlines, 'flooding the backyard of the mansion with a garden hose in an attempt to stage a naval battle', to which Ethel responded with a grin to her classmates, 'They were probably acting out the attack of the Maine from the War of 1812 ... That's their favorite.' Ethel's family activities included horseback riding, roller skating in the basement of the White House, and hardy walks. These were known to the Roosevelts as scrambles (venturing through creeks, up cliffs, and over rough terrain).

The Roosevelt children were instructed by the presidential police force, specifically Mr. Gilbert, to assist in protecting their father - 'If you are out with him on horseback, and a stranger rides at your father suddenly, I want you to spur your horse and get it in between your father and that stranger', and 'You must never let a man approach your father with his hands in his pockets, not with a bandage on his hand or his arm in a sling.' The children replied, 'Yes, of course we will ... Only ... if we make a fuss and get into trouble with Mother, will you get us off the hook?' When beloved Sister comes home to the White House to make her debut, she dares her young sister to crawl under the table at a state dinner party, and drop a note onto her father's lap. From this, Ethel learns the true meaning of her father's saying, 'Over, under, or through, but never around.'

In 1913, Ethel married Richard Derby, a World War I surgeon stationed in France, where she joined him as a nurse with the American Red Cross. She died in 1977, after continued efforts to preserve the family home as a National Historic site, known as Sagamore Hill on Long Island, NY. Kimberly Brubaker Bradley incorporates in a light-hearted novel imagination, historical sources, and first-hand accounts. The President's Daughter is a perfect introductory story for young readers about a girl not often written about, who was a member of one of the United States's most colorful and famous presidential families.

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