What to do About Alice? by Barbara Kerley

Kerley, Barbara. 2008. What to do About Alice? Il. by Edwin Fotheringham. New York: Scholastic Press. ISBN 0439922313.


A highly entertaining picture book biography, What to do About Alice?, takes the reader along with Alice Roosevelt as the went through life “eating up the world.” (Kerley, 2008)  Fotheringham adds period accurate, vibrant illustrations.  Whether it is his drawings of Alice bouncing on the sofa, waving to her friends at her father’s swearing in, or the remarkably familiar looking double lines of schoolgirls and their matron, Fotheringham’s drawings compliment, and occasionally overtake, the text.


Kerley works with, and around, the illustrations.  For example, on the page where Alice is ransacking her father’s library teaching herself in her father’s library, all of the text fits in the shadow of a moose head.


What to do About Alice? is a bit of a conundrum.  The book presents Alice Roosevelt as a well known figure in Washington.  In her time, she was.  However, despite the tabloid-worthy news mentioned in the book, many people haven’t heard of Alice.  While it may be a children’s book, I think many adults would be surprised by the existence of Alice Roosevelt Longworth.


Thank goodness for author’s notes!


What to do About Alice? could easily be used when studying influential women in America (or perhaps famous Alices).  It could be used to study Teddy Roosevelt’s presidency from a different point of view.  If the books could be found, I think it would be fun to invite kids to do research about other “forgotten” icons, though it would likely be best to have a list ready.



Sibert Honor Book

Parents Choice Award

A Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year

An ALA Notable Book


Publishers Weekly- ” Debut illustrator Fotheringham creates the perfect mood from the start: his stylish digital art sets a fast pace, making use of speed lines (rendered in dots, these earn their names) and multiple vignettes to evoke characters in perpetual motion.”


Publishers Weekly. 2008. http://www.publishersweekly.com/978-0-439-92231-9

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