“'There's cold chicken inside it,' replied the Rat briefly; 'coldtonguecoldhamcoldbeefpickledgherkinssaladfrench

'O stop, stop,' cried the Mole in ecstacies: 'This is too much!'”
-- from
The Wind in the Willows

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Abe's Honest Words • Nonfiction picture book

Abe’s Honest Words: The Life of Abraham Lincoln
Doreen Rappaport • illustrated by Kadir Nelson
October 2008 • Disney-Hyperion • Nonfiction picture Book • Ages 8 and up
Caldecott Honor winner and New York Times best-selling illustrator Kadir Nelson brings his talents to this stunning biography of Abraham Lincoln, the next biography in Doreen Rappaport's inspiring "Big Words" series.
Story: CELEBRATE LINCOLN’S 200TH BIRTHDAY IN 2009. Two hundred years after Lincoln’s birth, the story of his humble beginnings, tenacity, honesty, compassion and incredible vision remains as inspiring and timely as ever.

Story behind the story: The passion for humanity that defined Lincoln’s life shines through in this momentous follow-up to Doreen Rappaport's Martin’s Big Words and John’s Secret Dreams. Told in Rappaport’s accessible, absorbing prose, and brought to life in powerful illustrations by Kadir Nelson, Abe’s Honest Words is an epic portrait of a truly great American president. "'I went on a pilgrimage to step into Lincoln's shoes,' says Nelson, 34, who traveled to the 16th president's home state of Illinois and to Washington, D.C., to prepare to illustrate the book. 'I wanted to get a feel of the path he traveled, to paint this great American journey. I wanted to humanize him but still pay homage to him as an icon....It comes down to the pursuit of truth,' Nelson says. 'That's why I love history.' Nelson's work has amassed a formidable following. Both Spike Lee and Will Smith have collaborated with Nelson on children's books. Collectors of his paintings, which sell for up to $30,000 each, include Denzel Washington, Queen Latifah, Shaquille O'Neal and Venus Williams. " (USA TODAY)

Author Doreen Rappaport "has long been interested in history and its effects on individuals and groups, especially children. 'History is as exciting as fiction,' she says, 'and it can open a child's eyes to the drama in their own lives as well as the lives of their ancestors.'" (BOOKPAGE). Her books have been named to the New York Times and American Library Association Notable lists, and have received awards from the International Reading Association and the National Council of Teachers of English, among many others. To help teachers and readers, Rappaport provides a learning guide with suggested questions, vocabulary, and research info.

★ “This collaboration between Rappaport and Nelson provides a sweeping arc of Lincoln’s life, jumping from his humble beginnings and his early political career through his struggles to preserve the union and to help abolish slavery. Rappaport writes in a very free verse, and on each page echoes her narrative with prescient samplings of Lincoln’s words.. This exceptional art, along with Rappaport’s and Lincoln’s words, makes this a fine celebration of a man who needs little introduction.” --Booklist, STARRED REVIEW
FYI: all the review copies for this title have been sent and reviews are in the works; please check back and click on the "comments" link below for reviews from your colleagues.


Mrs. Vyn said...

I have tried twice to request a copy of this book and the email address is coming back with a delivery failure notice. I am really interested in using this book in my classroom though.

Deborah Sloan said...

Thanks for bringing this to my attention Mrs. Vyn! You're right - the email I listed is not correct, but I have now fixed the link, so just click on "order your reviewer's copy now" or send an email to childrens.marketing@disney.com and you should be all set. Enjoy the book! - Deborah Sloan, The Picnic Basket

K. Deeb said...

I read this book is awesome. I used it with my intern class and the students wanted to hear more. With Lincoln's birthday and the new penny coming out, I feel my students know who our 16th President was. Great book, please add it to your classroom library.... K.Deeb, Florida

Susan Appleton said...

I ordered a review copy of this book the very first day it appeared on the blog, but haven't received it yet.

Louise Stearns, Southern IL Univ. said...

I read this book to my students on February 12, the 200th anniversary of Lincoln's birth. I plan to read this book every year on February 12, in honor of Abraham Lincoln. Doreen Rappaport and Kadir Nelson have created a wonderful tribute to Abraham Lincoln. The realistic illustrations extend the text so that the reader/listener really feels Lincoln's pain and frustration when he dealt with slavery. Lincoln's passion for freedom and justice shine through the pages. The author's text combines her narrative with Lincoln's quotes to weave a complete picture of Lincoln's feelings. This book takes us on a journey, a journey to when Abraham Lincoln delivered his famous speeches, a journey through time so that hopefully we will never forget the man or forget those who died so that 'this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom".
I give this book a high 5.

Louise Stearns
Children's Literature
Curriculum & Instruction
Southern Illinois University
Carbondale, IL 62901-4610

Lemon the Duck said...

I enjoyed this book thoroughly. I read the author and illustrator's note before I began and could feel the honor the two had for this wonderful man just in those few sentences. The rest of the book proved that feeling.
The illustrations are exquisite, giving you a feeling they are as large as life, spilling over into more than one page. You can feel the emotions resonating from them.
The author provided me with new insights to Lincoln's life, including quotes that would make this picture book a valuable tool to be used with upper grades as well as elementary.
The back matter was thorough and valuable in their own right including a timeline, references, resources for further reading and The Gettysburg Address.
This book is a valuable addition to any library.
I would rate this book a 5 .

Laura Backman
Reading Specialist
Melville School

Susan Appleton said...

I got my copy of this book today and sat down and read it immediately. It is absolutely a WONDERFUL book! From the front cover to the very end, it is just beautiful! The illustrations are large and colorful and just show so much emotion!!! The journey through Lincoln's life really tells about his love of education and mankind. I love the way the authors tell about him, and then include words from the man himself! I would DEFINITELY recommend this book to anyone and everyone! A very well-deserved rating of 5 for this book!!!!

Anonymous said...

A fabulous picture book, entertaining for children but written with enough depth for young adults. I used this in my fifth grade classroom and it left my students wanting more. A wonderful addition to any classroom, library, or home. Stunning illustrations and great quotes throughout make this book a real treasure.

5th Grade Teacher
Hercules, CA

Kathy said...

Another super book to add to your Abraham Lincoln collection. I have shared several Lincoln books with my 4th grade class this year and they rated this book a 5. Using Abe Lincoln's handwriting to write his words, was an awesome touch to this beautifully illustrated book. The "rich" illustrations added a lot to his words and encouraged many questions. A great read-aloud and one to be enjoyed every year on our 16th President's birthday.

Kathy J. Johnson
4th Grade Classroom Teacher
Williamsburg Elementary
Williamsburg, MO 63388

Pat K. said...

Rating - 5, Strongly Recommend

A beautiful picture book that tells the life of Abraham Lincoln. The author intersperses the story of Lincoln’s life with his words on every page. The pictures are beautifully detailed and rich in color. This book is a must for the upper elementary teacher (grades 3-5). It correlates to the study of presidents and the fight against slavery.

Pat Kramer
Third Grade Teacher
Palm Harbor, FL

Zion Lutheran School Library. said...

Abe’s Honest Words: The Life of Abraham Lincoln
By Doreen Rappaport
Illustrated by Kadir Nelson
Picnic Basket Rating: 5

How could anyone not love a book illustrated by Kadir Nelson? His work is so striking, his choice of subject matter so dramatic. For Doreen Rappaport’s ‘Abe’s Honest Words: The Life of Abraham Lincoln’, Nelson has created some dramatic views of Lincoln and slavery. The text pairs aspects of Lincoln’s life with passages of his own writing. Combining the three elements, fact, Lincoln’s words, and the beautiful illustrations, render ‘Abe’s Honest Words’ a perfect introduction to Lincoln for younger readers. It would make an interesting read-aloud for two voices, one as narrator to read the biographical information with the other voice reading Lincoln’s words. Weave in some period songs and one could truly bring this book to life. ‘Abe’s Honest Words’ is perfect for an audience of 1st through 4th graders.

Karen Sutera
Zion Lutheran School
Marengo, IL

Rhonda McFarland said...

As soon as I had the book in my hands, I could not wait to read it to my 3rd grade class. When they saw the illustration of Lincoln on the cover, they begged me to read it. The book is absolutely mesmerizing. Nelson's beautiful illustrations and Lincoln's own words interwined with Rappaport's delicious writing was just a treat to read to myself and aloud to my class. My class of 30 find it hard to sit still for long, but they were engaged and had many questions as we shared this book together. It is definitely becoming a permanent part of my celebration of Lincoln each year. I also appreciated the references in the back. Many of my kids want to borrow it and read it on their own. A very engaging book for reluctant readers! I highly recommend this book to anyone who has an interest in Lincoln. I give this book a 5!
Rhonda McFarland
3rd Grade Teacher
Gates Elementary
Aurora, IL

Mary Lou said...

Abe’s Honest Words

Incredible is one of the best words to describe Abe’s Honest Words: The Life of Abraham Lincoln. The illustration on the front cover commands your attention. Abraham Lincoln is looking right at you. Kadir Nelson’s illustrations are rich and pull readers into the book. The illustrations work nicely to the free verse of Doreen Rappaport and Abraham Lincoln’s words. The reader will want to linger over the illustrations and read and reread the book. I’m sure that Doreen Rappaport carefully chose the words to convey information and emotion. As you read a page you automatically stop to think about what you have read. As a reader I often reread Abraham Lincoln’s quote and looked at the illustration a bit more closely.
This book is to be savored as a read aloud to students from kindergarten through sixth grade. This is a must for every classroom in America and also for every school and county library. If you can have only one book in your classroom about Abraham Lincoln, it should be Abe’s Honest Words: The Life of Abraham Lincoln. I’m sure that students will be drawn back to this book, if you leave it out for them to read on their own.
I strongly recommend this book. On the scale of one to five it is definitely a five.
Mary Lou D, literacy facilitator, Bella Vista Elementary, Cottonwood Heights, Utah

Anonymous said...

From the bold portrait and wordless front cover to the ornate endpapers with strong quotations from Lincoln, this book draws readers in and feeds on their curiousity. The illustrations show a progression from young, unkempt Abe to the familiar statesman we are accustomed to seeing. The writing is spare but full, and tells the story of Abraham Lincoln eleoquently, with aid from his own words on each page. This book will be accessible to all students, with a simple storyline that is rich with food for thought. This gets a rating of 5 for me, and I plan on ordering it for my other library.

Susan O'Connell
School Librarian
Woodbury Elementary School
Woodbury, VT

kokomana said...

Abe’s Honest Words: The Life of Abraham Lincoln
Doreen Rappaport
Illustrated by Kadir Nelson

This is a great book! I loved how Lincoln’s own words are combined seamlessly with Rappaport’s text. The different typeface also further set Lincoln’s quotations apart. However, I would have appreciated a footnote or endnote providing a reference for each quote. I plan to use this with fifth and seventh grades next year and incorporate an information hunt. Kaddir Nelson’s illustrations are as always stunning. The detail and expression are amazing, and the illustrations complete the story. Nelson was a perfect choice as illustrator for this book. This is one of the best picture book biographies I have seen.

Rating: 5

Monica Bildner
Assistant Librarian
St. Rita School
Dallas TX

Heather said...

This book is a fabulous one to add to any collection! The students loved hearing words said and written by this outstanding president. Starting with his humble beginning really helps the children to understand Lincoln's character. I am so pleased to have it in my classroom, as are my students!

Heather Meinerts
4th Grade Teacher
Collins, Iowa

PLLoggerR said...

If I had to choose one of the books about Abraham Lincoln offered on The Picnic Basket, it would be Doreen Rappaport's Abe's Honest Words: The Life of Abraham Lincoln. The book is well written and illustrated (by Kadir Nelson). Short verse and Lincoln quotes accompany page and a half wide illustrations. The text follows Lincoln from childhood to assination, from self-education to leading the country, from a country in turmoil to one with freed slaves. A great book for discussing a great man.
I give this a Picnic Basket 5.

Becky Jensen
Peacham Library Co-Director

debnance said...

With text that reads almost like a poem and big, energetic illustrations, and with each page spread featuring a powerful quote, this book approaches the beauty of a snowflake. Page by page, the author tells the story of Abraham Lincoln’s tumultuous life in short bursts of prose and emphasizes each big moment with a strong quote and a magnificent illustration. A truly beautiful book, in pictures and words. A book for every Lincoln lover. A book for every library.


Debbie Nance, Librarian

Anonymous said...

I thought this book was beautiful. The combination of quotes from Abe Lincoln and information from the author is in perfect balance. The illustrations add to the charm of the book and the passion of Abe and the people of the United States. It is a great book to use with primary kids as they can learn about this famous American but at a level that is appropriate for them. The older kids could use it as a jumping off point to then research more about President Lincoln. I would give it a 4 overall.
K. Anderson - Colorado

Mary said...

In Abe’s Honest Words, Doreen Rappaport touches on the main events of Abraham Lincoln’s life and how these events formed him as a person and a politician. The book doesn’t really tell the life story of Abraham Lincoln as there is no mention of his family after his boyhood. Each page includes a quote from Lincoln along with the wonderful illustrations of Kadir Nelson. At the end of the book is a list of important dates in Abraham Lincoln’s life, a list of books for further reading and a list of websites about Abraham Lincoln. There is also a bibliography of selected resources Doreen Rappaport used to research this book. The last page includes the Gettysburg Address.
Abe’s Honest Words is a beautifully written and illustrated book that is practically perfect in everyway. I feel certain Abe’s Honest Words will quickly become a standard choice for introducing Abraham Lincoln. I rate it a 5.

Anonymous said...

The illustrations are amazing! "Abe's Honest Words" is a fantastic way to introduce children to the life of Abe Lincoln. The illustrations capture their attention while the words help them understand what his life was like. I love the way they describe his love of reading and how important it was in his life. As I shared this book with my kindergarten class, it was clear to them that he made his education a priority. The small facts, such as Abe not liking his name "Abe", really helped bring him to life for the children and make him someone they could relate to and understand. Though parts of the book were above their level, it was a great way to really teach them about this important person and time in history.

I would rate this book a 5.
Kimberli Carrier
Wise Owl Preschool and Kindergarten

Ursula said...

Abe's Honest Words is a fantastic picture book. I was so excited when it arrived and I realized that I already have Martin's Big Words by the same author. I loved using both books with my fourth grade students this year. The illustrations are phenomenal. This book is a treasure. It deserves a 5!!