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ABRAHAM LINCOLN by Amy L. Cohn Kirkus Star


by Amy L. Cohn & Suzy Schmidt & illustrated by David A. Johnson

Age Range: 7 - 11

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-590-93566-6
Publisher: Scholastic

“See that tall, tall man in the tall black hat? Know who he is? That’s right, he’s the man on the penny—Abraham Lincoln, sixteenth president of the United States,” who here receives a thoroughly humanizing picture-book treatment. Editor and compiler Cohn teams with one of her contributors to From Sea to Shining Sea (1993) to craft a narrative that borrows freely from the American tall-tale tradition in style but that succeeds beautifully in turning the monument into first a child and then a man. Anecdotes and quotations are sprinkled liberally throughout, allowing Lincoln’s humor and forthrightness to speak directly to the reader. From the first to the last page, the text refers the reader to the illustrations, which complete the humanizing task in fine style. Johnson’s (Old Mother Hubbard, 1998) muted ink-and-watercolor washes frequently allow their subject to break the frame, emphasizing his gangling length and enormous feet and hands. One illustration of Lincoln as a young lawyer features a dramatically foreshortened Abe at his desk, looking out from behind his paper in mid-story, gigantic feet and bristling quills dominating the foreground. A later illustration depicts the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation: Lincoln’s careworn face stares directly at the reader over a rumpled tie, a quill in one huge hand. Less a formal biography than a biographical story, this offering depends upon previous exposure to Lincoln’s career—the term “Confederate” is introduced toward the end with no previous contextualizing, for instance—but as a literary overlay to that history, it succeeds magnificently. A timeline is appended, but there are neither source notes nor suggestions for further reading. (Picture book/biography. 7-11)