A fictionalized biography of “one of the most endearing companions of modern times.”
On a trip to Mississippi, President Theodore Roosevelt went hunting, but the only bear he came across was “one scruffy, no-account cub,” and the president certainly couldn’t shoot it. “I’d never be able to look my children in the eyes again!” But even though T.R. didn’t snag a bear, the newspapers got a story, and the Washington Post ran a Clifford Berryman cartoon that got the attention of Morris and Rose Michtom, who owned a little novelty shop in Brooklyn. To honor the president’s “big warm heart,” Mrs. Michtom created a bear sewn together out of scrap materials. She stuffed it with fine wood shavings, sewed on shoe buttons for eyes, and stitched a little black nose with darning thread. They placed “Teddy’s Bear” in the shop window, and soon it seemed as if everyone in America was buying teddy bears. “I think the reason kids love teddy bears so much is that they’re so darn cuddly,” said Mr. Michtom. However, the digitally rendered illustrations of the bears make them seem more flat and untextured than cuddly. Otherwise, though, the match of cartoonish illustrations and clear text works well in creating a solid, upbeat account. The author’s note mostly retells the story and discusses where “pleasant speculation” was blended with the factual record. Characters depicted all seem to be white.
A heartwarming story, if a bit short on cuddles. (Picture book. 5-9)