Tuesday, April 7, 2009
Abe's Honest Words: The Life of Abraham Lincoln
Rappaport, Doreen. 2008. ABE’S HONEST WORDS: THE LIFE OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN. Ill. by Kadir Nelson. New York: Hyperion. ISBN 9781423104087 [Suggested Grade Levels 3-6]
This picture book biography features a dramatically wordless cover. Both title and author appear on the back jacket, allowing an instantly recognizable portrait of Lincoln to dominate the front. In the mold of previous titles—MARTIN’S BIG WORDS and JOHN’S SECRET DREAMS—ABE’S HONEST WORDS blends expository text with brief passages taken directly from the iconic president’s spoken and written words. Rappaport recounts the events of Lincoln’s remarkable life: a Kentucky boy who knows hunting, fishing, and farming but loses his mother at age nine, becomes a self-educated lawmaker, an unlikely president and, finally, a victim of an assassin’s bullet. Narrative text precedes a well-chosen quote on each two-page spread, alongside Nelson’s vivid painting which fills three quarters of the space. His luminous images give life to the well-known sequence of events. Throughout, the book focuses on Lincoln’s intellectual and moral development and his life-long opposition to slavery. A somber dark profile, reminiscent of the penny, accompanies a quotation about Lincoln’s certainty in signing the Emancipation Proclamation: “My whole soul is in it.”
A note from both author and illustrator hint at purpose and perspective. Back matter includes a timeline, list for further reading, recommended websites, source list and full text of the Gettysburg address.
Explore Abraham Lincoln’s life through a variety of books and online databases. As a group or individually, create posters that highlight some of the important events of his life.
Other books for middle grade readers on Abraham Lincoln:
Bial, Raymond. WHERE LINCOLN WALKED. ISBN 9780802786265
Fradin, Dennis. THE ASSASSINATION OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN. ISBN 9780761421238
Landau, Elaine. THE EMANCIPATION PROCLAMATION: WOULD YOU DO WHAT LINCOLN DID? ISBN 9780766028999
By Suzy Parchman