Teddy Roosevelt, Millie and the Elegant Ride

Written by Jean Flahive
Review by Dorothy Morgan Schwab

Millie Thayer is caught up in a dream, but world events may derail the plan to exchange her Maine farm life for more exciting adventures. In 1911, an interurban trolley system is being constructed to connect Lewiston with Portland, passing right through her family’s farmland. Millie, an imaginative seven-year- old lovingly named “Spitfire” by her grandpa, envisions the electric trolleys as a magic carpet ride that will whisk her away to far-off places.

In this novel spanning the years of 1910-1920, including the entry of the United States into World War I, Millie feels her dreams are dashed.  Millie’s infatuation and adventures with the electric trolley, Narcissus, are based on a true, but little-known event of a young girl’s excitement in handing a bouquet of sweet peas to the “notable” Teddy Roosevelt.  He was on the campaign trail for a Republican candidate for president, and a passenger on the trolley. Mr. Roosevelt had also been a frequent visitor to the area as a youth.  Bill Sewall, his guide and lifelong friend, shared and taught young Theodore to appreciate the outdoors. Thus, begins Millie’s lifelong admiration for “Mr. Teddy.”

Jean Flahive’s Teddy Roosevelt, Millie and the Elegant Ride, “intricately furnished” with insight into Presidential elections, the suffrage movement, the U.S. entry into World War I, the Spanish Flu pandemic, and even the Camp Fire Girls organization, is a perfect match for teachers and librarians searching for identifiable characters in teaching history.  Middle-grade students and adults alike will enjoy the interview format as 96-year-old Millie shares young Millie’s captivating account of this event-filled decade in American history. Buy a ticket and enjoy an “elegant ride” with “Mr. Teddy” and Millie on the Narcissus!