Author – Science, Environment, Travel, Children's Books
Although I don’t remember it well, I just know that I read Abraham Lincoln at some point in my childhood. The simple, colorful, penciled pictures seem homey and familiar. This Caldecott winner was written back in 1939, won in 1940… and it shows. The terminology is somewhat dated and the language about “Negros” and “Indians” is certainly not particularly sensitive or respectful by today’s standards. Provided the child is old enough to understand and discuss these historical idiosyncrasies, the book is smart, complete and worth reading. Now, it is long… real long at 30+ full pages of text. You would likely not be able to read it in one setting and it is probably best for middle elementary.
I think the best place for this book in your child’s life would be as an introduction to the biography genre. It is unbiased, clean and factual, but with plenty of humorous, easily understood anecdotes. The details about President Lincoln’s childhood, the way he treated the children in town, and the tales of him as a good brother and father make him seem real and kind. There are good themes about honesty, hard work and perseverance that you’ll want your kids to soak up.
I don’t know what to take from this as a writer…. I don’t think it would go over well today. It’s too long for a little kid and too easy for a big kid. However, I think Ingri and Edgar Parin d’Aulaire were extremely talented. The way in which they were able to reduce the enormously successful and complex life of Abraham Lincoln into an entertaining text appropriate for young people warrants study and respect.
© Katie Bieker, 2013.