Posted by : Deborah Takahashi Thursday, September 13, 2012

Plot Summary:
Unlike most of the Presidents of the United States, Abraham Lincoln was the tallest and skinniest of them all who said "howdy" to his guests and called his wife "mother." Born in a log cabin in Hogenville, Kentucky, Lincoln spent his youth in the backwoods, chopping wood and working on the family farm. When he wasn't doing chores, or working odd jobs, Lincoln always had a nose in a book. After his father, Thomas, moved him and the family to Indiana, tragedy struck the Lincoln household. After losing his mother, Nancy, to "milk fever," Lincoln helped his father craft her coffin and bury her, which left him little time to grieve. When his father brought home his new mother home, Sarah Bush Lincoln, Lincoln and his sister were fortunate to have someone who loved them dearly. When he was 17, he traveled to the glorious city of New Orleans, which was filled with wonder and horror. During his short stay, Lincoln saw slavery for the first time, which not only struck a chord in his own life, but challenged every belief he had. Eventually, when Lincoln was 21, he got a job in a general store in Illinois, where he learned to better himself by reading and learning. Although he wasn't expecting this responsibility,  he ended up as a captain of the militia when Black Hawk decided to invade the territory. Although his service only lasted a few months, Lincoln immediately ran for the state legislature, but wasn't elected. At the same time, he and a business partner tried to open a shop, which failed, and left him with $1100 in debt. In order to pay back his debts, Lincoln held all sorts of odd jobs and then decided to become a lawyer. Although his early beginnings, as a lawyer, were not glamorous, people started to see the passion and the conviction in Lincoln's eyes when he talked about anything and everything. Eventually, he made friends with Mary Todd's sister and husband who introduced her to him. Although Lincoln was strongly attracted the Mary, he courted and proposed to only break it off. However, after overcoming a dark depression, he eventually married Mary a year later who gave birth to their first son nine months after. Now as a father and husband, his political career, and law practice, took off. Despite his success, the issue of slavery had invaded his mind and soul, which pushed him to run for the presidency. Despite the criticism and threats, Lincoln never wavered from his stance and when he won the election, we all know what happened then: the Civil War, the Emancipation Proclamation, the Battle at Antietam, the Gettysburg Address, and his untimely demise. In this book, readers will learn about Lincoln the man, the politician, and the heroic figure we all have grown to respect and admire.

Critical Evaluation:
In this brilliant account of the most beloved President of the United States, Freedman provides readers with am enthralling narrative. Abraham Lincoln lived an extraordinary life in a time where the our growing country was being invaded by injustice. Although we all learn a little about Lincoln's youth in this short, but informative, biography, it also provides plenty of quotes, facts, and stories of how this amazing man became the 16th President of the United States. I will admit that I only knew a few things about Lincoln, prior to reading this, and that he was the author of the Emancipation Proclamation and the Gettysburg Address. We all know that those two documents were definitive points of the Civil War, but we will always know the reason behind this devastating war: Slavery. From the moment he saw it in Louisiana, Lincoln had always known that it was immoral and unconstitutional; slavery was was about denying people their inalienable rights that our forefather's died for and Lincoln, himself, knew the burden of being bound to a master because of the laws that were imposed on him as an adolescent; if he took on a job and made money, it would go directly to his father, who didn't appreciate him. What I enjoyed about this work is that Freedman conveys to readers that Lincoln, was in fact, a simple and ordinary human who persevered through personal tragedies to become the leader who united a country. Another great aspect of this book is the collection of photos. I cannot express how powerful and evocative the Civic War images are; when we read, and see the pictures, not only does this provoke our senses, but it drives home the point of the story. One of my favorite attractions at Disneyland is stopping by the theater that is home to Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln. It's sometimes hard to believe that that the Civil War actually happened and, when I hear, and see, the snippets of Lincoln's speeches. I admit, I cry every time I see the photos of dead soldiers, especially the one of the two brothers: one was a Union soldier the other Confederate.This was a volatile time to live in because if Lincoln didn't do what he did, who knows where this country would be today. There are a lot of things to think about in the end, but we also have to make a moment and realize just how beautiful freedom really is.
Information about the Author:
According to Scholastic's Publishing's website:
Russell Freedman is the award-winning author of 47 books, some of which have been translated into a diverse number of languages, including Japanese, Korean, German, Spanish, Flemish, Arabic and Bengali. But Freedman wasn't always a children's book writer. He grew up in San Francisco and attended the University of California, Berkeley, and then worked as a reporter and editor for the Associated Press and as a publicity writer. In these jobs, Freedman did lots of research and provided important information to the public. Since becoming an author, he has done the same thing but now he gets to focus on topics that he is personally interested in and wants to learn more about. His nonfiction books range in subject from the lives and behaviors of animals to people in history whose impact is still felt today. Freeedman's work has earned him several awards, including a Newbery Medal in [1988] for Lincoln: a Photobiography, a Newbery Honor each for Eleanor Roosevelt: A Life of Discovery in 1994 and The Wright Brothers: How They Invented the Airplane in 1992, and a Laura Ingalls Wilder Medal.
Freedman has traveled extensively throughout the world to gather information and inspiration for his books. His latest book, Confucius: The Golden Rule was inspired by his extensive travels through Mainland China, where he visited Confucius' hometown in modern day QuFu, in the Shantung Province.
Russell Freedman now lives in New York City.

All Ages

Reading Level/Interest:
Grades 4 & up

Books Similar to Lincoln: A Photbiography:
  • Children of the Dust Bowl by Jerry Stanley
  • The Wright Brothers: How They Invented the Place by Russell Freeman

Awards & Recognition:
  • 1988 Newbery Award Winner
  • 1998 Laure Ingalls Wilder Award Winner
  • 2007 National Humanities Award Winner

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Deborah Takahashi
Pasadena, CA, United States
My name is Deb and I am a Librarian who absolutely loves to read and recommend books to teen and tween readers. In this blog, you will find reviews on a variety resources ranging from books, movies, video games, and much more. Please feel free to leave any feedback, especially book recommendations!
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