Book #200: Stand Tall, Abe Lincoln

Stand Tall Abe Lincoln -- coverDue to various writing deadlines and a deluge through our roof this past week, I have been unable to meet my daily book quota. This causes me no small amount of anxiety, as I’ve become quite passionate about my Book-A-Day blog. I’m starting with today’s post and will fill in the blanks as time allows.

It’s ridiculous to put another Lincoln book up in March, but when you call for a hold at the public library you don’t know precisely when they’ll come in. This one showed up late, but I think it’s too good to miss. Who cares if it’s past Lincoln’s birthday?

Published in 2008, this biography is unique in that it is very much a picture book, but each page contains many paragraphs about Abe’s upbringing, childhood, his time in school, and his relationship with both his mother and his stepmother.  The book is filled with marvelous details and captivating illustrations.

Abe expected to do chores. What he didn’t expect was a neighbor to give him a pink baby pig for his very own. The pig became more than a pet. Find Abe, and the pig wouldn’t be far behind. By late summer he was big enough to ride. Oh, how the pig’s prickly hairs tickled Abe’s bare feet!

Stand Tall Abe Lincoln -- pig

Fall arrived with golden leaves, red wild crabapples…and bad news. Thomas told Abe his pig was needed for the family’s winter pork. That couldn’t be. The pig was Abe’s best playmate. If his parents thought slavery was cruel, killing his pig was just as cruel. Abe ran away. For two days, he hid in the woods. But nothing changed his pet’s terrible fate.

These are tough words for a picture book, but Ray was ready for this biography and he was fascinated. The book is a lovely homage to Abe’s mother, Nancy Lincoln, who died when Abraham was only nine years old.  You can feel his devastation:

Abe felt helpless…and terrified. His mother wouldn’t die. She couldn’t! But she was dying and she knew it. “Be good and kind to your father — to one another and to the world,” Nancy told Abe and Sarah.  ‘I want you to live as I have taught you.”

The rest of the book is largely devoted to Abraham’s acclimation to his stepmother, Sally Lincoln, who was very different from the quiet and soft-spoken Nancy. It’s painful to read how much Abraham missed his own mother, but large-boned Sally had other abiding virtues. She didn’t read, but she brought Aesop’s Fables and other classics to their one-room cabin, and she encouraged his intellect. Gradually Lincoln grew to love his father’s new wife, and considered her one of his greatest influences and biggest heroes. ABZ

Stand Tall Abe Lincoln -- reading to kids

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