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The President's Daughter by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
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Feb 05, 2012

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bookshelves: children-middle-grade, historical-fiction, presidents
Read in June, 2005

** spoiler alert ** Theodore Roosevelt is many things to many people, but to his youngest daughter Ethel, he is simply “Father.” It didn’t matter to her that he had been a cowboy, a colonel, a governor, or even the Vice-President of the United States. Safe and secure with her large family at Sagamore Hill, what her father did outside their home rarely gave her concern…until the fateful night of September 13, 1901.

With the assassination of William McKinley, Vice-President Roosevelt suddenly becomes President Roosevelt, and Ethel finds herself thrown into the public spotlight as the President’s daughter. Although Ethel doesn’t mind moving into the ramshackle Executive Mansion (soon to be officially named as “The White House” by her father), or the stories about her family in the newspapers, she is very concerned about the National Cathedral School that she will be forced to attend.
Having to go to new school for the first time is bad enough, but being the new girl and the daughter of the President makes things even worse. Nearly everyone in the school snubs Ethel because of who she is, but what she hates the most is being apart from her parents and brothers for long periods of time. Wanting to give up, Ethel begs her parents to pull her out of the school, but her father will not tolerate even the thought of quitting.

At a loss for how to deal with the situation, she turns to her older, free-spirited half-sister Alice for advice. In her own wily way, Alice points back to a simple saying that their father always shared when someone in the family was confronted with a problem: “Over, under, or through, but never around”. There are different ways to overcome a challenge, the President believed, and running away should never be an option. Armed with this advice, Ethel is determined make the best of her circumstances in a way that only a Roosevelt can. But will this straight-forward approach work at Ethel’s school, or will cause more harm than good?
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