PPBF: To Dare Mighty Things

With warm weather at last, we’re releasing butterflies, watching birds, and swimming in the pool. Our outdoor activities prompted today’s Perfect Picture Book Friday pick about presidential outdoorsman, Teddy Roosevelt.

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TITLE:  TO DARE MIGHTY THINGS

AUTHOR: Doreen Rappaport

ILLUSTRATOR: C. F. Payne

PUBLICATION INFO: Disney Hyperion, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4231-2488-7

SOURCE: library

INTENDED AUDIENCE: ages 6 to 8

GENRE: nonfiction picture book biography

OPENING and SYNOPSIS:

“’Teedie,’ as he was called, coughed, sneezed, wheezed, had raging fevers, and hardly ate.”

From the jacket flap:

“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.”

THEMES/TOPICS: history, biography

WHY I LIKE THIS BOOK: Teddy Roosevelt is a fascinating character. He truly remade himself from an often-sick youth into the quintessential outdoorsman and bold politician. I’ve read other books that focused on snippets of his life, for example Rosenstock’s THE CAMPING TRIP THAT CHANGED AMERICA, but this is the first truly comprehensive biography I’ve seen. Rappaport integrates primary sources into the text and presents a balanced picture. She shows how Teddy intervened in other country’s affairs, like those of Panama, ultimately building the Panama Canal. Of course, Teddy Roosevelt could care less what others thought, she tells us. Rappaport reveals Teddy as truly larger-than-life, and Payne’s illustrations follow suit beginning with the cover. It shows only Teddy’s laughing face. No title. No author’s name. No illustrator’s name. Just Teddy, truly larger than life.

RESOURCES/ACTIVITIES:

  • Rappaport’s back matter has resources for further exploration, including books and Web sites.
  • A teacher’s guide is available through her Web site.
  • She also has links to several videos of Teddy, including one of him hunting big game  in Africa.
  • And, of course, you too can dare mighty things and try some of the things Teddy did: ride a horse, watch birds, hike, and write your own books about what you find.

You’ll find way more cool books at Susanna Leonard Hill’s “Perfect Picture Books.” Every Friday folks review a host of new books. Join us!

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First Fruits

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Picking juicy, ripe fruit is a beloved summer and fall activity. We’ve just enjoyed our first cherries of the season from our local “u-pick” orchards. We picked at least eight and a half pounds, and I think I have a good 3 hours of pitting ahead of me. Pie and preserves are on the way. What’s your favorite summertime fruit? Do you have any recipes to share?

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For the Birds

Killdeer eggs  Photo courtesy Mike Williams
Killdeer eggs
Photo courtesy Mike Williams

We are batty about birds at our house.

About 10 days ago we discovered a killdeer nest. These shorebirds create nests on the ground, rather than in trees. Our bird laid four speckled eggs among the decorative rocks in our front yard. We’ve been checking the nest periodically to see how our birds are faring.

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Killdeer
Photo courtesy Mike Williams

These birds have an interesting defense against predators. Whenever someone approaches the nest, one bird acts as if it has a broken wing to draw the predator away. It’s fascinating to watch.

Today we discovered NestWatch from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. We were able to create our nest on the site, get certified as nest watchers and input data from our nest checks. Cornell scientists are especially interested in nests from the following species: American Robin, Northern Mockingbird, Northern Cardinal, Mourning Dove, Barn Swallow, and House Finch. But if you discover any type of nest, you can put it on the site and share your data. This is a fun and easy way for kids to become animal scientists.

We also recently discovered male California quail on our property. These birds just make us giggle. What fun it would be to find a quail nest. We’ll keep you posted.

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California quail
Photo courtesy Mike Williams

Blog-cation

Dear Blogosphere friends,

It’s summer. Days are long. Nights are warm. The kids are out of school. And there’s just too much beach going, pool swimming, fruit picking, firefly watching and other summer fun happening to be tied to the computer.

So, I’m declaring a blog-cation until August 1st. I won’t blog regularly, but maybe occasionally. And only if I feel like it. I’ll fall way behind on my blog reading and commenting. I won’t check Facebook. I won’t tweet (but how often do I do that anyway?). I’ll just have lots of lazy fun with my two curious kids.

In parting, here are a couple of pictures from our recent cherry picking adventure. We picked 8.25 pounds and canned 15 half pints of jam. There were enough cherries leftover for eating and making a cherry pie. Yum!

 

Mmmmmmm, cherries!

Ace cherry pickers (Finley with Sheyla)