Teddy Roosevelt, Millie and the Elegant Ride

Children - Grade 4th-6th
201 Pages
Reviewed on 01/05/2020
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Author Biography

In all my writings, I enjoy shedding light on lesser known pieces of Maine history. So I was delighted when I received a call from Phil, a long-term volunteer at the Seashore Trolley Museum in Kennebunkport, who told me about the Narcissus, a 1912 electric trolley undergoing restoration. He went on to relate the factual account of a young farm girl who gave Teddy Roosevelt a bouquet of flowers when he was a passenger on the Narcissus. After visiting the museum, staring at the Narcissus, my imagination took flight. I did not hesitate when Phil asked if I wanted to write the story of young Millie and her special moment with a former president.

    Book Review

Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite

Teddy Roosevelt, Millie and the Elegant Ride is a work of children’s fiction penned by author Jean M. Flahive which takes place in the historical setting of the 1910s. Written for a middle grade reading age of nine to twelve years, this historical work looks at poignant issues of the time, particularly in the case of young women and the effect of the Roosevelt presidency on the state of Maine. Our central character is Millie Thayer, whose headstrong ways don’t really suit the quiet life of a farmer’s daughter: she seeks more from the world. So when she crosses paths with a fated celebrity, Millie begins a journey to adulthood that has much farther reaching consequences than she realises.

Filled with historical gems and so much to learn and discuss, author Jean M. Flahive has created a charming novel which is also an essential teaching tool for local history. In terms of genre, the work is exceedingly well researched, and Millie’s story is inserted into an accurate timeline of local and global events which will surprise many young readers and certainly fascinate them to learn more in their own time. From a story perspective too, this makes for an interesting plot filled with excellent twists, and the ways in which they become linked to Millie’s emotional arc, as her dreams are constantly under threat of destruction, link readers to her in a very meaningful way. Overall, I believe that Teddy Roosevelt, Millie and the Elegant Ride achieves everything it sets out to as an accomplished work of educational historical fiction and an engaging read for its target audience.

Risah Salazar

Millie Thayer, a curious girl from Gray, Maine, finds herself admiring Theodore "Mr. Teddy" Roosevelt a little bit too much. When she was seven, a fortune-teller assured her that she would be meeting someone notable in a black car. But Millie, at such a young age, didn't even know what notable meant. As soon as her mother explains the meaning of that word, and as she learns from her father the wonderful deeds that Roosevelt is currently doing, she has decided that this notable person she will meet is none other than Mr. Teddy himself. And as for the black car? Maybe it has something to do with one of the electric trolleys of the Portland-Lewiston Interurban.

Teddy Roosevelt, Millie and the Elegant Ride by Jean Flahive is the perfect story for young readers, especially for little girls. This historical story is not only informative but also entertaining. I have learned so much from this book and the photos with notes at the end were indeed helpful. I love how Flahive wrote the character of Millie because she is the role model our girls need today - feisty yet considerate, bright and full of hope. She is not just a dreamer; she is also a doer who will never stop until she gets what she wants. I highly recommend this book if you are looking for a great adventure with American history on the side. It's a short story that can be finished in one sitting. Trigger warnings include multiple deaths, mentions of World War 1, and influenza.

Emily-Jane Hills Orford

Ninety-six-year-old Millie is excited to be visiting the shop where the famous electric trolley, the Narcissus, is undergoing restoration. As she steps aboard, the memories of a lifetime take her back to her childhood, when, as a seven-year-old farm girl, she dreamed big, and the Narcissus was the newly launched electric trolley making a run on the newly laid tracks near the family farm. The wonder of it all causes Millie to watch in awe. Discovering that a famous person, a notable person, is on board; none other than the former President, Teddy Roosevelt, Millie is determined to meet the man. But the wagon breaks down on the way to town and Millie is distraught, deciding instead to run after the electric trolley in the hopes of presenting the man she calls Mr. Teddy with a bouquet of sweet peas she picked fresh from the garden. Millie didn’t earn her nickname Spitfire without just cause. In fact, Mr. Teddy does see the little farm girl running after the Narcissus and he orders it to slow down so the girl can catch up and present him with the flowers. As Millie grows up, she tries repeatedly to meet the man who captured her attention at such a young age. But war looms and tragedy hits the family hard, but the little girl with the big dreams continues to reach out.

Jean M. Flahive’s children’s historical fiction novel, Teddy Roosevelt, Millie and the Elegant Ride, is a cleverly told story based on history. Starting in the present day (2000), the novel takes the young reader back as the main character, Millie, now in her nineties, recalls momentous events in her childhood before, during and after the First World War. The different eras are well labeled so the reader doesn’t lose track of which part of the story happens when. The present-day Millie tells her story to a young man who marvels at the adventures of childhood so long ago. Millie speaks like any grandmother would speak as she unravels her exciting tale. The characters, past and present, are well developed and the setting described with clarity. The childhood fascination with a notable figure, in this case, Teddy Roosevelt, makes a connection with a historic figure in American history. The story is an enjoyable read, packed full with both fun and history. A real gem.