cover image Abe Lincoln’s Dream

Abe Lincoln’s Dream

Lane Smith. Roaring Brook, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-59643-608-4

The device of a conversation between a schoolgirl and Lincoln’s ghost could have been a clumsy gimmick, but Smith (Grandpa Green) executes it with casual grace. Riffing on a piece of trivia—that White House dogs often barked inexplicably outside the Lincoln bedroom—Smith imagines Quincy straying from her White House tour and stumbling upon a familiar-looking figure in a stovepipe hat. When the melancholy gentleman confesses his anxiety about the aftermath of his presidency (“Are the states united?... Did that work out?”), she hastens to reassure him. “Yes, that worked out fine,” she smiles. “And equality for all?” he presses. “That’s working out, too,” she says. “It’s getting better all the time.” They tour the country (“the ghost did the flying”) and finish on the moon, whose American flag prompts Lincoln’s first expression of pleasure: “Three cheers and ballyhoo!” Smith’s engraving-like illustrations are in quiet shades of dollar-bill green, but there’s plenty of visual excitement in the circus-poster typography. Quincy’s unexpectedly moving encounter presents American history not as a series of dry and inevitable events, but as Lincoln’s dream fulfilled. Ages 5–9. Agent: Steven Malk, Writers House. (Oct.)