cover image When Abraham Talked to the Trees

When Abraham Talked to the Trees

Elizabeth Van Steenwyk. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, $16 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-8028-5191-8

The creators of My Name Is York here shape an amiable portrait of a young Abraham Lincoln as an aspiring scholar and orator: ""Reading took last place in Abraham's day, but it was always first place in his heart."" Farnsworth bathes the young Lincoln's world in a golden suffused light; sundappled trees offer shade to the boy while he delves into his books. As the hard-working lad labors by day in the fields, he recalls and savors the words he read the previous night. Aesop, the dictionary and the Bible are staples of Abraham's reading list; the latter ""nourished and filled him as much as the vittles on the table."" The youth also practices his skills as an orator, repeating sermons he has heard while standing on a tree stump in front of his extended family, until they wander away and ""nobody was left but the trees."" The oil paintings effectively convey the tale's rustic period setting, while emitting an agreeable romanticism (Lincoln is made out to be a good deal better-looking than most historical depictions). This volume treats readers to a narrow though satisfying slice of an oft-documented life. Ages 6-12. (Sept.)