Bully! Children’s American Heroes Series, by Ryan Stallings ISBN 9780692676370
Five out of five stars
This book is based on an unusual premise that everyone rejects at first but rapidly takes in stride. Jamie is eight years old and the son of South Dakota Senator Paul Douglas. His mother has recently died and his father has immersed himself in work in an attempt to cope with his loss. Unfortunately, this also means that Jamie is being neglected and must fend for himself and cope with his loss on his own. The only thing that Jamie has for comfort is a very large teddy bear that his mother was going to give him. One night, after bullying problems at school and another day of neglect, Jamie places the bear in a chair and drifts off to sleep.
The next morning Jamie is shocked to find that the teddy bear has been replaced by former president Theodore Roosevelt. Roosevelt is still in his prime and full of energy, immediately becoming a friend and counselor to the troubled boy. Despite the extremely odd circumstances and some initial belief that the man is only an actor playing Roosevelt, everyone quickly accepts him as genuine.
Hungry for quality male attention, Jamie starts following Roosevelt’s advice and engages in strenuous physical and mental activities so that he will be able to face his problems. Senator Douglas and others are initially angered by Roosevelt’s assertive tactics, even to the point where both are physically escorted out of the Oval Office of the White House.
Despite the absurdity of everyone quickly accepting a strange man suddenly appearing and claiming to be someone that has been dead for almost a century, this story works. For the premise of suffering loss and or being bullied in school is something that many children face in school. Any story that deals with this issue can be of comfort to those facing those problems. There is little difference between the appearance of Theodore Roosevelt and the plot device of the fairy godmother.
Of course it is necessary for the reader to understand that when Theodore Roosevelt used the word “bully” the term meant “superb” or “wonderful.” People that know history will also understand the connection between Theodore Roosevelt and the term “teddy bear.”
This book was made available for free for review purposes.