From the Mount Rushmore series

Like the faces on Mount Rushmore, this entry in the series provides a face but falls short on substance

Following Theodore (2006) and George (2012), Keating adds a new face to the Mount Rushmore series.

In a first-person narrative that incorporates many quotations of his own words, the 16th president looks back on his life and accomplishments and presents himself glowingly in the process. He’s Honest Abe, liberator of slaves, savior of the union, protector of the Constitution. There’s no room here for or even a hint at complex issues and moral decisions; the icon is paramount. Wimmer’s oil-on-canvas paintings are the star, with stately full-page images complementing the text, though they too elide complexity. A slave-auction image feels rather like an exercise in illustrating period dress (fashionable white men and auctioneer), with only a dangling shackle to indicate the enslaved human foregrounded but placed discreetly to the side, back to readers. The dramatic Civil War image is reminiscent of Mort Kunstler’s famous war scenes in drama and palette. The narrative and the many quotations are an uneasy mix, the sometimes-stately tone of speech excerpts jarring with Keating’s straightforward narrative voice, and quotations sometimes overwhelm the text. Backmatter includes the text of “The Gettysburg Address” and a brief bibliography of scholarly works but no guide to the many fine works on the subject for young readers.

Like the faces on Mount Rushmore, this entry in the series provides a face but falls short on substance . (Picture book/biography. 6-9)

Pub Date: Jan. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4424-9319-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 18, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2016


A worthy message delivered with a generous dose of inclusivity.

Sharing books brings children from multiple backgrounds together in this companion to Stacey’s Extraordinary Words (2021).

Again lightly burnishing actual childhood memories, voting rights activist and former gubernatorial candidate Abrams recalls reaching out as a young book lover to Julie, a new Vietnamese classmate shy about reading in English. Choosing books to read and discuss together on weekly excursions to the school’s library, the two are soon joined by enough other children from Gambia, South Korea, and elsewhere that their beaming librarian, Mr. McCormick, who is dark-skinned, sets up an after-school club. Later, Julie adds some give and take to their friendship by helping Stacey overcome her own reluctance to join the other children on the playground. Though views of the library seen through a faint golden haze flecked with stars go a little over the top (school librarians may disagree), Thomas fills the space with animated, bright-eyed young faces clustering intimately together over books and rendered in various shades beneath a range of hairstyles and head coverings. The author underscores the diversity of the cast by slipping scattered comments in Spanish, Wolof, and other languages into the dialogue and, after extolling throughout the power of books and stories to make new friends as well as open imaginations to new experiences and identities, brings all of her themes together in an afterword capped by an excellent list of recommended picture books. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A worthy message delivered with a generous dose of inclusivity. (Picture-book memoir. 6-9)

Pub Date: Dec. 13, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-327185-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Nov. 15, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2022


A succinct, edifying read, but don’t buy it for the pictures.

Abraham Lincoln’s ascent to the presidency is recounted in a fluid, easy-to-read biography for early readers.

Simple, direct sentences stress Lincoln’s humble upbringing, his honesty, and his devotion to acting with moral conviction. “Lincoln didn’t seem like a man who would be president one day. But he studied hard and became a lawyer. He cared about people and about justice.” Slavery and Lincoln’s signature achievement of emancipation are explained in broad yet defined, understandable analogies. “At that time, in the South, the law let white people own black people, just as they owned a house or a horse.” Readers are clearly given the president’s perspective through some documented memorable quotes from his own letters. “Lincoln did not like slavery. ‘If slavery is not wrong,’ he wrote to a friend ‘nothing is wrong.’ ” (The text does not clarify that this letter was written in 1865 and not before he ascended to the presidency, as implied by the book.) As the war goes on and Lincoln makes his decision to free the slaves in the “Southern states”—“a bold move”—Lincoln’s own words describe his thinking: “ ‘If my name ever goes into history,’ Lincoln said, ‘it will be for this act.’ ” A very basic timeline, which mentions the assassination unaddressed in the text, is followed by backmatter providing photographs, slightly more detailed historical information, and legacy. It’s a pity that the text is accompanied by unremarkable, rudimentary opaque paintings.

A succinct, edifying read, but don’t buy it for the pictures. (Informational early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: June 20, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-243256-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 5, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2017

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