We’re in the midst of studying the Civil War. Last week we went on a field trip to the Clara Barton House and afterwards enjoyed these books on Abraham Lincoln during our lunchtime picnic. (The joys of homeschooling are all in that sentence.) This picture biography by Sarah Thomson tells many of the familiar details of his life story but uses his own words as a strand throughout the narrative. Lincoln’s words are in a bright color, making it easy to tell what are direct quotes. It’s a good general biography, accessible to younger elementary kids. The illustrations are done by the talented James Ransome, but didn’t appeal to me. They are of a caricature/cartoonish nature that seemed to not go well with the text.
I’ve read a lot of books on Lincoln with the kids but no others have chosen to focus on his sense of humor. Kathleen Krull and Paul Brewer also use Lincoln’s own words to show that he was a man who loved words. We know this when thinking about the Lincoln-Douglas debates or the Gettysburg Address but they go further to show that he also loved using words to lighten the mood or diffuse a situation. He could be clever and was known for his wit.
I got this one thinking it would be a good book for David (a 1st grader) but there is actually a fair amount of text. The jokes also require a certain amount of sophistication as many involve wordplay or knowledge of history. It didn’t take a lot to stop and explain why a quote was particularly clever and John liked it quite a bit. I felt like a lot of it was over David’s head until a few days later when he quoted back part of the book in a discussion about slavery. Still, I think it’s probably best for middle to upper elementary.
Past reviews on books about Lincoln:
Abe Lincoln, The Boy Who Loved Books by Kay Winters
Abe’s Honest Words by Doreen Rappaport
Lincoln and His Boys by Rosemary Wells
Non-Fiction Monday is hosted this week at Wendie’s Wanderings.