Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Lincoln Shot: A President's Life Remembered

Denenber, Barry. 2008. Lincoln Shot: A President's Life Remembered. Ill. by Christopher Bing. New York: Feiwel and Friends.

This massive book (11" x 17") was created to resemble an aged leather album of newspaper pages from a fictional periodical, The National News.

The book begins with the assassination and then tracks back in time with "chapters" (denoted by headlines), Boyhood (1809-1829), Youth (1830-1835), Politician (1836-1853), and Candidate (1854-1860), followed by a chapter for each year of the Civil War (1861, 1862, 1863, 1864, and 1865). The biography ends where it began, with the nation's first presidential assassination. A Chronology, Index, Picture Credits, and Walt Whitman's poem, "O Captain! My Captain!" finish out the book. The Bibliography is available only online.

Period photographs, quotes, maps, advertisements ("Dr. Sterling's Ambrosia for the Hair. For Sale by Druggists. Price $1"), sketches, handbills, and even a page of Lincoln's math homework in his own hand(!), ("If 1 gallon of ale cost 8d what cost 36 gallons"), add interest and variety to this story of one of our best-known presidents. Each page is sepia-toned and resembles a brittle and aging newspaper.

Despite having read several biographies of Lincoln (both adult and children's), I was still able to find tidbits of new information in details about the assassins and other items of particular interest to children, such as the antics of the Lincoln boys in the White House. My only complaint is that because of the book's format and use of actual period headlines, readers may have the impression that the text actually appeared in newspapers of the time. This is however, a minor issue.

This book's size and format should definitely draw interest in this, the 200th anniversary of President Lincoln's birth. Great for display! (difficult to shelve)

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