The Lincolns: A Scrapbook Look at Abraham and Mary by Candace Fleming

Lynn: It is exciting that we are inaugurating Bookend’s association with Booklist as Barack Obama is inaugurated as the 44th President of the United States. We are admirers of our new president and wanted to find just the right book to celebrate. We thought it would be fitting to choose a book about Abraham Lincoln, whose Emancipation Proclamation set us on the road for Obama’s historic election and whose Bible will be used during the Inaugural ceremony.

There are so many exceptional books this year about Lincoln on the 200th Anniversary of his birth and it was hard to choose. We settled on The Lincolns: A Scrapbook Look at Abraham and Mary (Random House, 2008) by Candace Fleming. Fleming’s scrapbook format works beautifully in this fascinating book making it ideal either for dipping into here and there or reading straight through. The book is packed with information, exquisitely researched and presented, with lively engaging writing and most readers won’t be able to do anything but read it cover to cover. The pivotal information about the Civil War and the emancipation of the slaves is wonderfully integrated into the personal story of the Lincolns. It is in presenting the portrait of the Lincoln that the book shines. Fleming says,

“I uncovered new facts and discovered new truths. But best of all, I walked in their footsteps, I felt the Lincolns begin to take shape for me. They began to form in my heart and mind until they were no longer merely historical figures but human beings, solid and concrete.”

This wonderful book did that for me too. Abraham and Mary came alive for me as did their time and impact on history. Best of all, the book has done that for teens as well, helping them to understand that history is the story of real people, not just dates, and that the stories of the people who came before us shape who we are and what we become.

Cindy: We had an enthusiastic 8th grade reader for this book last summer in our BBYA (Best Books for Young Adults) Club. She said reading nonfiction and biography was fun when you didn’t have to complete a mind map organizer for it for a class assignment. She reads a lot of nonfiction. We were especially rewarded by her passion for this book when she showed up with a cake to share. Fleming includes Abe Lincoln’s favorite white almond cake recipe and Dana made it for us and brought it to share with the group. I like nonfiction, too, even more so when it is served with dessert!

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About the Author:

Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan are Booklist reviewers and middle-school librarians who have chaired both ALA’s Best Books for Young Adults and the Michael L. Printz Award for YA Literature committees. Follow Bookends on Twitter at @BookendsBlog. You can also find Cindy at @cdobrez and Lynn at @482april.

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