Riley O'Rourke is writing his report on President Teddy Roosevelt in preparation for the fourth-grade biography tea, but he has a far more important goal: to get a saxophone so he can take instrumental music. His mother can't afford to rent him a sax, and he's sure he'll never save up enough money to buy one. But as Riley learns more about Roosevelt's "bully" spirit, he realizes that there just might be a way to solve his problem after all.
This sparkling story about the influence of important historical figures is enhanced by tender, insightful illustrations.
Mills (the Gus and Grandpa books) introduces an ingenuous, likable lad whose fourth-grade teacher assigns each student a biography to write, based on a book of at least 100 pages. When Riley hears that at project's end the students will attend a tea party, each dressed as the subject of his or her biography, he is less than thrilled ("To say that Riley would rather die than go to a biography tea would be an exaggeration. But not a big exaggeration"). The young hero is assigned President Teddy Roosevelt, and during his research picks up intriguing and inspirational nuggets about this leader's life. When Riley leaves his note cards for the report on a bus, he realizes that Roosevelt would overcome this obstacle and finds a way to retrieve the cards. Riley's best friend, inspired by the generous spirit of hisbiography subject, Mahatma Gandhi, helps Riley achieve his goal of playing the saxophone in the school band. On a triumphant concluding note, Riley's teacher praises the boy's intrepid spirit: "Bully for you, Teddy Roosevelt." And bully for Mills, whose credible, often comical caper moves along apace, thanks to engaging repartee among the classmates. Alley's animated art enhances the tale's humor and helps capture the characters' diverse personalities. Ages 7-10. (Mar.)Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information