Children's Lit Book Reviews

Monday, April 5, 2010

Lincoln: A Photobiography
By: Russell Freedman
Publisher: Sandpiper
Copyright: 1989
Pages: 160
Reading Level: 9-12
Genre: Photobiography
Award: Newbery
"Freedman succeeds in making Lincoln an intriguing, recognizable human being--ambitious but modest, folksy, sensible and witty, a doting parent, a determined and compassionate leader."
-Publishers Weekly

Summary:Throughout Lincoln's life, he was known as a tall, bony legged man. Although he claimed he had forgotten his childhood, historians say he was born in a log cabin near Hodgenville, Kentucky, on February 12, 1809. His parents, Thomas and Nancy named him after his pioneer grandpa who had been killed by Indians while harvesting his crops. After many years, Thomas Lincoln, who was a farmer, decided to move the family to Indiana. This was, as Lincoln said, "The hardest experience of my life." Abe and his sister, Sarah, attended a small one-room cabin school two miles away from their home. This was the only formal schooling he had. When Abe was nine, his mother, uncle and aunt all came down with the so-called "milk sickness" and died weeks later. A year went by, then Thomas found another wife. He married Sarah Bush Lincoln who was a great housekeeper and took very good care of Lincoln and his sister. She also brought her three children to live with them. Lincoln learned to work hard at an early age. Later, during his presidency, he said, "Work, work, work is the main thing." After that, Lincoln decided to look for work in New Orleans and then New Salem, Illinois. In New Salem, Lincoln studied law and decided to run for the state legislature. He lost but then ran again when he was 25 and became the second highest vote getter in the state as he was elected to the Illinois House of Representatives. At the age of 30, he moved to Springfield and met the love of his life, Mary Ann Todd. They were engaged soon after they met but called the wedding off after Mary's sister did not approve of the marriage. Lincoln's friends said this period was the worst emotional crisis of his life. On the 4th of November they told Mary's sister they were to be married, and they did marry that evening. Their first child, Robert Todd, was born nine months later. Then Eddie was born in 1846. By the time Eddie was born, Lincoln had opened his own law office, won a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives and moved to Washington, DC. Eddie, not yet four, died in 1850. Later, in 1851, Willie was born, then Thomas, who was nicknamed Tad, was born in 1853. At this time, Lincoln was the leading antislavery spokesperson in Illinois. At the age of 51, he ran for President. He was elected on the 4th of November 1860. In 1861, the death of Willie, who was only 11, really upset Mary. However during Lincoln's presidency he accomplished a lot of things including the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863. The Emancipation Proclamation declared that all slaves in Confederate territory would be free. As President during the War Between the States, Lincoln agonized over the loss of life and the division of the country. He wanted to preserve the democratic government of a truly united group of states. On April 4th, 1865, at the age of 56, Lincoln was shot in Fords Theater by John Wilkes Booth. Although the President did not die straight away, he did die the next day.
Who would benefit from reading this book? This is a great informational book, and I think that anyone who would read this would benefit from it. Its a great resource for teachers to use when teaching about the civil war or even great presidents of the past.
What problems/concerns could this book potentially cause? There is only one problem that this book might potentially cause ,and that would be there are certain photos where it shows in detail dead bodies laying on a battle field. This might be disturbing for some, and parents might not want their children reading or seeing this book. However this isn't a read a ong book as much as it is an informational book about our great President.
My reaction: I am a huge Civil War buff and loved reading every page of this book. It only took me about an hour and a half, maybe two at most. However, this book is such a great resource for knowledge and helped me feel more empathetic towards Lincoln. I am truly grateful for his sacrifice in preserving what our founding fathers believed to be true. I think the photos are classic and help illustrate many of Freedman's research. I would recommend that everyone one who has interest in the Civil War read this great book.
posted by Jon Dale at 1:21 AM


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