It’s not always easy to make history interesting…or even fun. But author Robert L. Bloch has succeeded in doing both in his new picture book, My Best Friend Abe Lincoln: A Tale of Two Boys from Indiana.
In My Best Friend Abe Lincoln, young Sam Harding tells about his modest life in Southwestern Indiana and the day he met a tall, lanky boy named Abe Lincoln. Like most pre-teens the two hit it off instantly, and spent their free time fishing, talking, and interacting with nearby Kickapoo Indians.
Sam’s admiration for Abe shines as he describes Abe’s character, his amazing memory in the classroom and his “way” with words. He describes Abe’s unusual talent for holding the interest of an audience, and his ability to express his thoughts so clearly and convincingly that everyone says he’ll make a great lawyer someday. He also tells how he and Abe witnessed a slave auction that changed them both forever, and was probably the precursor to Abe’s platform during the Civil War.
My Best Friend Abe Lincoln is a wonderful starter book for introducing young readers to the great Abraham Lincoln. Former Disney illustrator John W. Ewing sprinkles the book with a wonderful collection of kid-friendly, Disney-ish drawings that are rich in color and expression, endearing picture book lovers to Sam, Abe and the early American way of life. The sentences are short and age-appropriate, and there’s no question that a whole lot of love and care went into this book. However, if I could have one wish, it would be for the prose to do more “showing” and less “telling.” You see, I became so involved in this adorable little story that I longed to “see” Lincoln react to things and “hear” him speak for himself, instead of learning about everything – his interests, his talents, his classroom antics – through Sam’s perspective. Lincoln did speak a line or two; once about slavery, and once to say he hoped he’d see Sam again, but nothing else. And I had become so engrossed in his story by then, it just wasn’t enough for me.
That being said, you simply can’t miss out on this adorable little history book. It’s a great gift for your child’s personal library, and should fare equally as well in a school or public library. It offers a more intimate (and less sterile) look at the life and times of Abraham Lincoln, and the illustrations will leave you smiling for a good, long time. This one gets 4 Stars.
Pick up your copy of My Best Friend Abe Lincoln today!
Best wishes and happy history-hunting,
PICTURE BOOK DEPOT