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*Abe Lincoln Crosses a Creek: A Tall, Thin Tale (Introducing His Forgotten Frontier Friend)* by Deborah Hopkinson, illustrated by John Hendrix
Also by Deborah Hopkinson:

A Boy Called Dickens

Into the Firestorm: A Novel of San Francisco, 1906
Abe Lincoln Crosses a Creek: A Tall, Thin Tale (Introducing His Forgotten Frontier Friend)
by Deborah Hopkinson, illustrated by John Hendrix
Grades 1-3 40 pages Schwartz & Wade September 2008 Hardcover    

In an impressive collaborative effort, Deborah Hopkinson and John Hendrix have taken a tiny nugget of history and created a splendid historical picture book about one of our most-beloved presidents Ė Abraham Lincoln. Just in time to celebrate the 200th anniversary of his birth (February 12, 2009), Abe Lincoln Crosses a Creek joins a plethora of other new childrenís books about Abraham Lincoln.

This simple story targets the youngest readers, children who can easily identify with it and make connections to their own lives. Itís a straightforward tale of seven-year-old Abe Lincoln and his best friend, ten-year-old Austin Gollaher. Like most country boys in the early 19th century, Abe and his friend worked hard to help their families - and, like most boys from the beginning of time, they had a knack for finding adventure and having fun. Once day after a rainstorm, they go off in search of partridges, ďwearing nothing but long homespun shirts.Ē

After being warned by Abeís mother not to go near the flooded creek, the boys attempt to cross the creek on a fallen tree. When Abe falls in, Austin saves his life by pulling him safely to shore. Concluding with direct discussion of the moral, two final thoughts end the story: donít go near swollen creeks, and most importantly, apparently small events can make a huge impact.

What makes this book unique is the storytellerís voice, reminiscent of Jon Sczieska. Throughout the book, the narrator speaks in a conversational manner directly to the audience and to the illustrator. Anticipating the readerís reaction to different parts of the story, the author interjects a couple of speech bubbles reflecting a surprised listener. She also speaks directly to the illustrator as a few pictures are half-sketched with varying scenarios of the story. Encouraging audience participation, large, colorful interjections liven things up while holding the readerís interest.

An added feature of this unique book is the direct discussions of character, time, place and moral. The author speaks of these literary terms within the storytelling process, helping students to directly identify these essential parts of all stories.

With an eye-catching cover depicting a tree bridge between the parchment title and the boys by the creek, this book is sure to be a winner with early elementary students and their teachers. Intriguing students with a penchant for history, Hopkinson and Hendrix move beyond an account of a time gone by to a fun story that every child will enjoy.

With the visually vivid setting, unique point of view and wonderful illustrations that bring the reader smack-dab into the middle of the story, this book is a surefire read-aloud for 1st Ė 3rd grade students. Younger students may become confused with the multiple scenarios of the chain of events, the half-drawn pictures, and the inclusion of the artistís hand in some illustrations.

An authorís note at the end speaking to the origins of this story would further complete the story and add to its educational value. Nonetheless, this Lincoln story is sure to become a classic in any story time focusing on Presidentís Day or history.

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  Kristine Wildner/2009 for curled up with a good kid's book  

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