cover image Just in Time, Abraham Lincoln

Just in Time, Abraham Lincoln

Patricia Polacco, Putnam, $17.99 (48p) ISBN 978-0-399-25471-0

In Polacco's (January's Sparrow) third book touching on Civil War history, two contemporary boys and their grandmother visit a museum. There, Michael exclaims that it "must have been cool to fight in that war!" and Derek recalls playing a video game about the battle of Gettysburg, prompting the museum's Civil War expert to invite them to don Union uniforms and play a "real game." The boys are transported to 1862 Antietam, and accompany one of Mathew Brady's photographers to the site of the recently fought, critical battle. In chilling, wordless spreads portraying the bloodied, corpse-filled battlefield, Polacco frankly communicates that war is anything but "cool." Reinforcing that message, an anguished Lincoln appears to lament the battle's toll: "Twenty-three thousand men dead or wounded.... My heart breaks that I ordered these lads to their death." Back in the present, the boys' grandmother tells them that what they witnessed was a reenactment, but a Civil War photograph that shows the brothers with Lincoln leaves readers to draw their own conclusions. Polacco's fluid, emotion-charged images deliver her sobering lesson about war's inhumanity with her signature potency. Ages 7–9. (Jan.)