Happy birthday, President Lincoln

In celebration of Abraham Lincoln’s 200th birthday Feb. 12, here are a few of many new, interesting and fun books about the 16th president to share with your children.

ABE LINCOLN CROSSES A CREEK: A TALL, THIN TALE, by Deborah Hopkinson& John Hendrix, Schwartz& Wade, $16.99; ages 4-8.

Despite warnings not to go near Knob Creek, Abe and his friend Austin go to the creek to see the partridges and try to cross it on a log. As you would guess, Abe falls in and Austin has to save him. The author encourages readers to get involved in the telling of the story, to make predictions and to think about how history could have changed because of this incident.

MR. LINCOLN’S BOYS, by Staton Rabin, illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline, Viking, $16.99; ages 6 and up.

Lincoln’s youngest sons, Tad and Willie, spend a lot of time playing war. When their soldier doll Jack runs away from a battle, the boys can’t decide how to punish him. At first they want to execute him, but the gardener won’t agree to let them bury him in the garden. Then they get the idea to ask the president to grant him a pardon. In the author’s notes we learn Lincoln was the first to grant a turkey a pardon, which is a Thanksgiving tradition continued by presidents today.

WHAT LINCOLN SAID, by Sarah L. Thomson, illustrated by James E. Ransome, HarperCollins, $17.99; ages 6-9.

This story uses Lincoln’s own words. Throughout the book, his words are printed in red or yellow on each page and the author adds background information pertaining to the quote. After much reading and studying, Lincoln became a lawyer and then a politician so he could help make laws. His wife, Mary, encouraged him and believed he could become president. He said,"Just think of such a one as me as president.” An informative and interesting timeline of Lincoln’s life is included.

ABE’S HONEST WORDS: THE LIFE OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN, by Doreen Rappaport, illustrated by Kadir Nelson, Hyperion, $16.99; ages 8 and up.

The information in this book is built from the background of meaningful quotations from Lincoln’s life. Although he came from the backwoods of Kentucky and was a self-educated man, he worked most of his life toward equality for all mankind. The author includes a list of other books and Web sites for more Lincoln information.

A. LINCOLN AND ME, Louise Borden, illustrated by Ted Lewin, Scholastic, $6.99; ages 4-8.

A young boy shares many of Lincoln’s characteristics—he is tall and skinny, has big hands and feet and is teased by his classmates. This encourages him to learn more about the man with whom he shares his birthday.

OUR ABE LINCOLN, adapted by Jim Aylesworth, illustrated by Barbara McClintock, Scholastic, $16.99, ages 9-12.

Lincoln’s presidential campaign song was set to the tune of"The Old Gray Mare.” Using this idea, Aylesworth has created a song for children to sing as they learn a history lesson about Lincoln.

ABRAHAM LINCOLN COMES HOME, by Robert Burleigh, paintings by Wendell Minor, Henry Holt, $16.95; ages 6-10.

Luke and his father travel through the night to be among the people lining the tracks to wait for the historic train carrying the coffin of the late President Abraham Lincoln on his final journey home to Illinois for burial. The journey, which took 13 days, is detailed. This is a good book to read before making a visit to the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield. For more information on the museum, visit www.alplm.org/home.

LINCOLN AND DOUGLASS: AN AMERICAN FRIENDSHIP, by Nikki Giovanni, illustrated by Bryan Collier, Henry Holt, $16.95; ages 5 and up.

On the evening of his second inaugural ball, Lincoln was on the watch for his friend Fred Douglass to arrive, but there was a misunderstanding over which door to use. The story tells how the men became friends as they worked for freedom of slaves.

THE LINCOLNS: A SCRAPBOOK LOOK AT ABRAHAM AND MARY, by Candace Fleming, by Schwartz& Wade, $24.99; ages 9 and up.

By using letters, photos, speeches and newspaper clippings, the author presents a review of the life of the Lincoln family. For example, in 1856, while Lincoln was out on the court circuit, Mary decided to expand their house. When he came home he was not happy that Mary had spent $1,300 (money inherited from her father) for the construction. Also included is a recipe for white cake,"the best” Lincoln said he had ever eaten. She often served it with strawberries, but never frosted the cake. This interesting format is one for family members to enjoy together.

Judy Belanger is Chicago Parent’s children’s book reviewer and a retired elementary learning resource center teacher with four grandchildren. She continues to substitute in grades K-6.

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