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Rats in the White House

It's 1901 and Theodore Roosevelt has just become the 26th president of the United States. He arrives in Washington, DC with his wife, 6 children and 43 family pets. However, no one is a match for the infestation of rats in the White House kitchens. As the rats multiply, the Roosevelt children try to bring the problem to their father's attention, but "TR" is too busy making history. Only when TR wins re-election does he come up with a solution to the vermin, in the form of a 44th pet--Skip, a terrier. The book is based on facts and meticulously researched. The pages are filled with fun illustrations based on photos from the time period.


My children and I had such a great time reading this story together. The book was both interesting and  not overly long so it kept their attention the whole time. We were delighted to read an entertaining story, but also find out really cool facts about our 26th president, Theodore Roosevelt. 
They were both surprised to find out that he had 43 pets, that the Teddy Bear was named after him, that he was involved in the process for the Panama Canal, and listened to & fought for the rights of miners & minorities.On top of the book teaching my kids about US History without reading a textbook, the illustrations were beyond beautiful. 
This book was a perfect balance of true story & whimsical art & I really loved that there was supporting evidence (and more elaboration) in the back of the book of all the meetings President Roosevelt was depicted attending. 


What is your opinion on rats? Rats actually freak me out. I once had 2 mice in my house once and let's just say it's a memorable story, but had it been rats, I would have maybe burned my house down. You know what you can't burn down? The White House. It's kind of a no-no. When Theodore Roosevelt became President and moved into the White House, he came with a lot of family and pets. What he didn't come with was a big, nasty rat; unfortunately, that one rat quickly multiplied. Probably bringing all his buddies in because the White House probably has pretty great snacks hanging around, am I right?
The story mostly follows Archie, Theodore's son, and his quest to handle the situation while his dad is busy being President while at the same time making history with the railroad and doing loads of other things. (Did you know the name "teddy bears" came from Theodore Roosevelt? That little side story is included in this book!)
It's a pretty cute story, I think this is more geared toward the first, second grade children. They would have more appreciation for some of the facts that are mentioned in the book. I will say, Lucy (age 5) liked this book too, but she really enjoys all books so she might not be the best measure. HA! She got REAL excited thinking this family was gaining a whole bunch of new pets, while Penelope wanted to know where we could get a one-legged rooster because if the Roosevelt's could have one, why can't we? I can't say I'm against having a one-legged rooster. Let's make it happen, guys.
Over all? I really enjoyed this one, it's a cute story, and the illustrations are really beautiful. There is a Notes section at the back that has SO much information that kids would totally eat up.


Did you know that President Roosevelt moved into the White House with 43 family pets??? This is why I love fun books about history! We get to learn not only important facts but fun odd facts that show different sides of historical figures.

This historical fiction account of the rat problem that was in the White House at the time of Theodore Roosevelt’s administration and the mischief they caused. What I love most about this book is the several pages in the back where it explains the events in the book, such as the president’s talks with the coal miners and railroad owners. Plus it talks about how the Teddy Bear was named, and how the Rat Terrier got its name. I think this is a perfect book for your history loving kids or kids that just love odd stories. I know as an adults I loved it!!
⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

Kirkus Reviews

Theodore Roosevelt’s son Archie wants to solve the problem of rats in the White House in this illustrated children’s book based on a true story.

When Roosevelt becomes president in 1901, his family brings 43 pets to the White House. One is a rat, but 7-year-old Archie’s rodent would never cause problems in the kitchen. When cook Annie O’Rourke discovers a kitchen invader, Archie goes to his dad for help. But first Roosevelt is busy with paperwork, then with famous guests (including Booker T. Washington) and big projects (the Panama Canal, a coal strike, plans for national parks, and more). Each time, Archie knows the rats will have to wait. Inspired by one of his father’s favorite sayings, Archie encourages his siblings to hit pans in the kitchen with big sticks, trying to scare away the rats. It’s only a temporary solution, and eventually the rodents are back—until the president brings home rat terrier Skip to be Archie’s new friend: “Soon, not a rat remained in the White House.” Presenting a simplified version of many events from the Roosevelt presidency, Tabler makes the historical events approachable, whether union struggles, antitrust laws, or the invention of the teddy bear. Archie, who is a witness to both the mundane problem of rodents and the larger historical events of his father’s administration, serves as an appealing viewpoint character. The simple sentence structure makes the text accessible, and the inclusion of unfamiliar vocabulary words (hominy, a mischief of rats) will challenge independent readers. Lätti’s eye-catching illustrations are based on period photographs and closely depict the historical figures and Skip while also allowing Annie and Archie a wide range of expressions that add comedy to the events. Vivid details, including the full contingent of pets owned by the famous family and a moose head hanging from the dining room wall, enhance the feeling of what it might have been like to live in Archie’s White House. Copious notes, recipes, and references are provided for readers who want further details and citation information about the Roosevelts’ adventures.

A well-researched, engaging, child’s-eye view of U.S. presidential history.


One of our fave read out loud stories. “Rats in the White House” by Judith Tabler and Illustrations by Leo Latti, is such a fun story about rats in the White House during President Roosevelt’s presidency. Every time Archie (his son) tries to tell his dad (president Roosevelt) about the rats, he is busy making history including mediating coal strikes, and designing national parks. Slide to see the girls’ favorite part of the story, Theodore Roosevelt inspired the name of Teddy Bear after refusing to shoot a cub when he went hunting. A must read for all animal and history lovers!

Rats in the White House nominated for an award

Rats in the White House is a Nominee for the Theodore Roosevelt Association Children's Book Award!