cover image ABE LINCOLN: The Boy Who Loved Books

ABE LINCOLN: The Boy Who Loved Books

Kay Winters, , illus. by Nancy Carpenter. . S&S, $16.95 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-689-82554-5

Carpenter's (Fannie in the Kitchen) expressive oil paintings lend an appropriately sturdy air to this picture book biography of the 16th president. Winters (Wolf Watch) traces Lincoln's path "from the wilderness to the White House," beginning in the one-room cabin where he first spoke and progressing to his later career as a self-taught lawyer and politician who "aimed his words at wrongs he'd like to right." With an eye for details of particular interest to a young audience (such as the fact that as a boy, Lincoln plowed with a book in his back pocket for reading during frequent breaks), the author highlights the main points of Lincoln's life. Her free-verse narrative takes on a suitably homespun directness ("His ideas stretched./ His questions rose./ His dreams stirred," she writes as young Abe watches people pass by on the Cumberland Trail), a quality echoed in Carpenter's choice of oils on rough-textured canvas, in a style reminiscent of Grandma Moses's work. Frontier life unfolds in warm earth-toned shades, and the artist sets a brisk pace by interspersing smaller vignettes with full-bleed vistas. The pages bustle with spry figures, including Lincoln himself, a wiry lad with a shock of unruly hair, big ears and highwater pants. An author's note fleshes out more of the important events of Lincoln's life. This fine introduction to a president over whom, from boyhood, "letters cast a magic spell" points up a valuable message—that of the importance of words in shaping ideas and lives. Ages 5-8. (Jan.)