When I was at the NCTE this past November, I noticed a lot of new children’s books on Lincoln. With the upcoming inauguration of our first African American president, interest in Lincoln’s life will continue to be pertinent material for history classes. The new publications also coincide with the 200th anniversary of his birth next month.
Lincoln is revered for his intelligence, honesty, compassion, and eloquence, and these new titles highlight these attributes, among others.
Abe Lincoln Crosses a Creek: A Tall Thin Tale (Random, 2008), written by Deborah Hopkinson and illustrated by John Hendrix. Based on a firshand account, this is the story of seven year old Abe and his friend Austin Gollaher, three years his senior. Abe convinces Austin to cross a creek, but Abe falls and almost drowns. Austin fishes him out. Almost a half century later, President Lincoln is quoted as saying that he would rather see his old friend (Gollaher) “than any other man in Kentucky.”
Mr. Lincoln’s Boys (Viking, 2008) by Staton Rabin shows Lincoln as a loving and indulgent father to two rambunctious boys – Tad and Willie. Bagram Ibatoulline’s realistic paintings capture the tale’s humor, as well as the realities of the war as the tired Union soldiers – injured, maimed, exhausted – trudge home from battle.
Abe’s Honest Words (Hyperion, 2008) by Doreen Rappaport pairs Lincoln’s powerful words with her own to reveal her subject’s character and demonstrate how he overcame obstacles with unyielding determination to unite our country and free the slaves.
Abraham Lincoln Comes Home (Holt, 2008) by Robert Burleigh describes a nation mourning the loss of its beloved and revered 16th president through the story of a young boy and his father who journey by horse-drawn buggy to get a glimpse of the funeral train. Over 13 days and 1600 miles, the train traveled to reach the president’s burial site in Springfield, Illinois. Along the route, 30 million Americans paid tribute in the “mightiest outporing of national grief the world hat yet seen.”
Lincoln Through the Lens (Walker, 2008) by Martin W. Sandler shows older readers “How Photography Revealed and Shaped an Extraordinary Life.” Each page of text features a highlighted Lincoln quotation facing a full-page archival photograph or image. It focuses on the role that photography (a fairly new media) played in his career.
The Lincolns: A Scrapbook Look at Abraham and Mary (Random, 2008) by Candace Fleming offers readers a wealth of facts and stories about the Lincolns through short articles, archival photos, letters, engravings, lithographs, obituaries and even family recipes. It also shows Mary Todd Lincoln as a colorful character: tomboy, scholar, spiritualist, and compulsive shopper, as well as a grief-stricken mother – three of the four Lincoln boys did not live to adulthood.