Amy L. Cohn, Author, Suzy Schmidt, Joint Author, David A. Johnson, Illustrator , illus. by David A. Johnson. Scholastic $16.95 (40p) ISBN 978-0-590-93566-1

From their opening sentences ("See that tall, tall man in that tall black hat? Know who he is?"), Cohn, who compiled From Sea to Shining Sea, and Schmidt, who contributed to same, effectively involve readers in this breezy picture-book biography. Typeset in large, bold-face letters, the first four words quoted above are stacked one on top of each other, mimicking not only Lincoln's imposing stature (he stands tall on the facing page), but the book's fittingly vertical format. Initially, the informal narrative seems as rough-hewn as Lincoln's early lifestyle: "He's a boy of seven now. My, he's strong. Strong enough to plow and plant 'longside his pappy." After anecdotally tracing Lincoln's peripatetic path, as he dabbles in various livelihoods, the authors note that he eventually began working "as hard with his head as ever he had with his hands." Turning then to a description of the man's political prowess and accomplishments, the prose becomes more polished and refined, as do the quotations revealing this remarkable leader's insight and eloquence. Like the narrative, Johnson's (Old Mother Hubbard) period-evoking, earth-toned art, rendered in ink and watercolor wash, evolves with the passage of time, moving from spare, grainy pictures to more clearly defined, sophisticated images. A balanced, artfully composed portrait. Ages 7-11. (Feb.)

Reviewed on: 12/17/2001
Release date: 01/01/2002
Genre: Children's
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