Looking at Lincoln

Posted: August 29, 2012 in Biography, Early Childhood books, Illustrators

Looking at Lincoln, by Maira Kalman

Is it a biography? A history book? A picture storybook for young readers? Looking at Lincoln is a blend of all three genres. The young narrator sees someone who resembles the face on a five-dollar bill, and goes to the library to read about Abraham Lincoln. She tells us right off there are “over 16,000 books written about him.” So why do we need another? Because it’s by Maira Kalman. The blue, yellow, and pink cover signals this will not be the standard Lincoln fare. The narrator wonders about Lincoln the man, such as whether he and his wife had nicknames for each other, or if Mary made his favorite cake when he was elected. Kalman succinctly reviews the events of Lincoln’s presidency, yet adds anecdotes such as the shooting of a Civil War soldier, Elmer Ephraim Ellsworth. Hand lettered text and well as a serif-style font differentiate the narrator’s voice and the historical information. Notes from the author explaining more about the historical events are appended, along with a list of sources. The personal inquiry approach slides smoothly into an absorbing historical encounter. Read an interview with Kalman about the making of Looking at Lincoln, which includes a link so you can listen to her introducing and reading from the book, or you can just go to the link here.

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