“'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

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Lincoln Through the Lens • Non-fiction (middle-grade/YA)

Lincoln Through the Lens: How Photography Revealed and Shared an Extraordinary Life
by Martin W. Sandler
Fall 2008 • Walker & Company • Non-fiction (middle-grade/YA)
A stunning photo-essay that celebrates the remarkable life of an American original.
Story: More than one hundred images of Lincoln’s life and times provide a complete portrait of our most revered president, and the events that defined him. From the only confirmed existing picture of Lincoln before the historic Gettysburg Address to his second inauguration—where he is unknowingly surrounded by John Wilkes Booth and his co-conspirators—to the execution of his murderers, this eye-opening, inspiring visual journey provides a fresh take on one of the most documented and beloved figures in American history.
Story behind the story: Martin Sandler is the author of more than sixty books, two of which have been nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. Among his other books are The Story of American Photography, a Boston Globe-Horn Book Award Honor Book; he's also a respected television writer/producer with five Emmy Awards to his credit and has taught American history and American Studies at the University of MA and Smith College. He says, "When photography first burst upon the scene in 1839, it was regarded as a miracle. Never before had it been possible to record things exactly as they were. Most important, human likenesses could be recorded." And adds, "By the time Abraham Lincoln reached the White House, he had learned to use photographers and their cameras to his own advantage....At the beginning of his political career he had often deliberately mussed his hair before allowing his photographic portrait to be taken, so that the folks from the frontier who saw the picture would understand he was one of them." That bit of info, coupled with a look at some of the book's photographs, can stir up some interesting class conversations, no?

★ "Although it’s the pictures that provide the “wow factor,” Sandler’s perceptive words have their own elegance. Well sourced and offering numerous ways to learn more, this will be an excellent tool for history classes; and browsers, too, will be caught up in Lincoln’s story.”—Booklist, STARRED REVIEW

Lincoln Through the Lens includes information about places to visit with special exhibits and programs of special interest to young readers, suggested further reading and surfing, and source materials. See the online reading group guide offering tips on holding a mock election, staging a debate, creating presidential posters story webs and much more.
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 to read what your colleagues have to say.


tali said...

Another great book of our President.You might like to see the color versions as well. http://www.coloroflincoln.com

Susan Appleton said...

I got this book today and sat down to read just a few pages, but honestly couldn't put it down! The pictures are so interesting with great captions and I like the way it is setup. There is a page of writing describing the events related to the picture(s) and the facing page contains the pictures. This allows you to read a little bit and then really focus in on the pictures. It talks about Lincoln's life as a boy and all the way through his presidency, the Civil War events, and of course his death. I really think this is a great book and I would recommend it to anyone who is interested in the life of Abraham Lincoln! I can't wait to share it with my 5th-grade students and see their reactions.
I would easily rate this book a 5!

Laura said...

An extremely interesting book I will share with my fifth graders as we mark the 200th anniversary of his birthday. I have always been interested in Lincoln, but found I learned quite a bit while reading this book - and studying the pictures! This book also weaves some of the evolution of photography in to the recount of Lincoln's life and achievements. Definitely a 5 out of 5.

Pamela Kramer said...

Lincoln Through the Lens: How Photography Revealed and Shared an Extraordinary Life
by Martin SandlerFall 208

This book on the life of Lincoln is stunning and inviting. Stunning because of the plethora of photographs of Lincoln and those close to him. There are pictures of his sons (only one of whom lived to adulthood). There are early photos of him and late ones--even one of him after death. The accompanying writing is also wonderful and full of little known information. I never knew that Mary Lincoln was a shopaholic. I think that this is a great book for fifth graders and those older (including adults) who enjoy history.

Pamela Kramer
Reading Teacher
Highwood, Illinois

ahslibrarian said...

Lincoln Through the Lens offers some needed variety in a plate of “Lincoln Lit” that has grown stale, and frankly, unappealing. Martin Sandler has laid out a visual feast and supported his argument that photography both revealed and shaped the life of Lincoln.

Text that is accessible to a wide variety of readers is a rarity. When that type of access is emerges in a worn out topic (sorry, but Lincoln and the Civil War are no longer fresh) there is reason to take note. Perhaps the accessibility lies within each page’s organization as the reader is presented with a menu of choices. The choices include color, photos, and at least three different sizes and types of font. Or perhaps it lies within Sandler’s ample helping of quotations that further his point, or the meticulous inclusion of his sources and other helpful information in the appendices? Casual readers searching for morsels of information will be able to easily pick and choose the sections they like most. Other readers will find it necessary to complete the entire 97 pages. Others will enjoy the pictures and maybe even read the captions. All will benefit.

Sandler has a book that should be included in every public library collection as well as those of the middle and high school. A North Carolina teacher of U.S. History (an 11th grade course) could easily take this book and use it as a vehicle to cover the period 1850- 1865. Yes, they would need to supplement, but this book is that well organized.

5 out of 5

John Parker
Media Coordinator
Andrews High School
50 High School Drive
Andrews, NC 28901

Tasses said...

As I read Lincoln Through the Lens, I vacillated between personally loving the story of Lincoln and educator evaluating the book’s efforts. There is no doubt the story of Lincoln is engaging and now, between President Obama’s respect of the man and Lincoln’s looming 200th birthday, books seem to be springing forth like weeds. With limited funding, how do we tell the flowers from the weeds?

The slant Lincoln Through the Lens takes is that Abraham Lincoln was savvy enough to manipulate the media through the technology of his time: the photograph. For the most part, this premise is believable, but history is a speculative art and the extent of Lincoln’s vision can only be known through his accomplishments. The photographs are the stars of this book, but the text holds some interesting tidbits that are sure to please even those who think they know Lincoln. My Lincoln appreciating self really enjoyed Lincoln Through the Lens.

But my reading educator self is always present, especially when evaluating nonfiction text, and since my background is peppered with struggling readers, I am especially critical of texts lacking in support devices. While I read Lincoln Through the Lens I kept asking myself if it would be engage a secondary student and I’m not certain that I got a clear answer.

The text is nonlinear, but the purpose is to discuss the importance in the photographs, not the tale. The illustrations, coloring and font all seem to be carefully chosen, but textual clues in the form of graphs or charts might have enhanced the experience. Foremost, it’s always unfair to evaluate a book about Lincoln because no book will ever fill the shoes of the man’s own language.

For the most part, Lincoln Through the Lens is a good source for research reports and I suspect photography buffs would especially enjoy Lincoln Through the Lens.

Recommended for secondary libraries, but not necessarily classroom purchases.

Cheryl Tasses
M.S. Reading Ed.

Sandra Stiles said...

I was thrilled to find this book in my mailbox today. The pictures are great all alone. The writing is inspiring. I learned so much from it. With the approach of Lincoln's Birthday I can't wait to share the book with my students. We are currently finishing up a unit on Success. What better story than the success story of Lincoln. All of his failures were a step toward success. I will not only share this book with my students but also with my fellow teachers and media specialist. I give this book a rating of 5.

Laura said...

From the moment I sat down with this book I knew I had something special in my hands.This book was a pure delight to read. No matter where I opened the book, I was able to just dive in. I learned so many new and interesting things about President Lincoln and wished this book could have been part of my middle grade years. The format of the book was inviting and engaging. A quote on every page--a true delight. This photographic essay is a must for all. Here we see the beginnings of marketing a president to be. Even the youngest of grades will learn from carefully selected photographs within this book. I give this book a 5 out of 5.

Ellen said...

I was thrilled as I began to look through this book. The clean layout was refreshing, as were the varied photographs. The typography was interesting and helpful when discovering the topic of the page.
I appreciated how there was information about the first photography, so it was not all about Lincoln.
I really loved the large photographs and how certain people were shown on some of the pictures with a circle and line.
I learned a few facts about Lincoln and was highly entertained, until I got to the end of the book. Although I teach high school and pre-service teachers, I was appalled by some of the photographs toward the end. Pictures of the dead are not always welcomed and some young people might find disturbing. I would have to be careful with whom I share this book because of those.
Because of this, I would give the book a 4.5

Watts said...

I am an elementary teacher in central Kentucky. This book is very educational and gives a different aspect to Lincoln's life. The photographs help people visualize his life and all his great accomplishments.

Watts said...

I would rate this book a 4.5

Tina's Blog said...

I just received Lincoln Through the Lens and am excited to share it with my students. This book would make a great coffee table book because it can be opened anywhere and read page by page based on what topics you might find engaging. The idea that the evolution of photography is included is also another bit of history that is shared. While probably most appropriate for upper elementary and older students, my younger students might still find the photographs interesting and would enjoy hearing some pages read to them. What a great resource this book is!

Anonymous said...

I ordered this book to use during the celebration we are having for Lincoln's birthday. This book was just what I was looking for. I will use the book during our sixth grade language arts class. The book will be passed around so that each group has the opportunity to flip through it and find a page to read and share with the whole group what they have learned.
I would give this book a 2 from the picnic basket, because it is a book that you would use to teach history, or photography.
Jackie Purificato
Consultant teacher

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful book of President Lincoln! The photos are stunning and the accompanying stories are fascinating for both young and old readers. I highly recommend this book to anyone looking for a good read or for an informational text.
Recommended-5 stars!
Christine B.
Sixth Grade
Chicago, IL

Lisa Kennedy said...

I feel very fortunate to have received this book in time to share it with my fifth grade students on the occasion of President Lincoln's 200th birthday. Other reviews have mentioned the inability to "put the book down" and I whole heartedly agree. The opening quote on every other page gives the reader immediate insight into the information to follow. Although this book is recommended for middle school students it is without question a book to be included in every library. Students who are so inclined will read the entire book at one sitting due to the ability of the author and the photographs to keep the reader's attention. For a student who might not enjoy a long attention span the completion of each topic along with accompanying photographic information in two pages allows for the same enjoyment of information over a longer period of time. Some of the photography might be a bit graphic for younger audiences and yet serves a very distinct purpose in showing the times and troubles of our 16th President. I highly recommend the addition of this book to any library and would give it a rating higher than a 5 should any such rating exist.

Jacqueline Simmons, M.Ed said...

Greetings Everyone!!

I received Lincoln Through The Lens today and i am so glad that I DID! The book is absolutely decadent! The book offers the reader wonderful quotes from Lincoln, biographical information, views regarding slavery, etc. The book provides the reader with wonderful photographs, drawings, paintings and daguerrotypes of our 16th president. Many of the photographs, drawing, paintings and daguerrotypes of Lincoln are rare and this an asset. I truly believe that middle grade/Young adults will definitely enjoy this book. The book provides the reader with stimulating photographs and interesting text! If a person happens to be looking for a wonderful book that will discuss A. Lincoln life in great deail, along with wonderful photographs, this is the book!!!

I rate this book 5 stars! If I could rate the book higher, I would!

Mrs. Kondrick said...

What a great book! I received in just in time to get to know President Lincoln better, while celebrating his 200th birthday!! I love photography, and appreciate how much of Lincoln’s life was documented in the new medium of pictures. The cover of the book begs a reader to pick it up. The text of the book was well researched and written in a captivating manner. I will use this book to inspire research and research writing in my classroom (if I can get my family to put it down so I can take it back to school).
I give Lincoln a 5 (Get it, a 5… he’s on the 5 dollar bill!!)

Laurie Slagenwhite, Youth Services Librarian said...

Lincoln Through the Lens uses a unique design to reach the researcher and the browser alike: each two-page spread is dominated by a photograph that offers a focus for the section. Sandler explains that Lincoln was the most-photographed subject of his time, and this book offers a visual feast comprised of those photographs as well as drawings, all in an attractive format. Not to be outdone, the text offers plenty of information as well. An appendix of places to visit, a bibliography for further reading and web surfing, a thorough bibliography, and an index make this useful for reports. This book is a top hat above the many being issued in honor of Lincoln’s bicentennial. I would recommend this to public and school libraries and to any child (grades 5 & up) or adult who has a fascination with the 16th president. My Picnic Basket Rating: 5.
Laurie Slagenwhite, Youth Services Librarian, Baldwin Public Library, Birmingham, Michigan

Anne-Marit, Teacher, Majestic Elementary said...

just received this book yesterday and could not put it down. I love the format! I enjoyed the pictures and the short, informational pieces on each page. It was interesting to read and then to study the pictures. Great book! I would definitely rate it a 5!
Majestic Elementary

dmuldawer said...

Lincoln Through The Lens is a book that belongs in every middle school and high school library. Well written and informative with gripping pictures, this book has something that will appeal to all readers.

While some of the pictures are a bit graphic, today's generation of children, growing up with video games and cable TV, will probably be more interested than appalled.

Meanwhile, there's plenty of meat in this book to appeal to teachers, librarians, and parents. The captions describing the photographs are fascinating in their own right and the research is meticulous. Who would've known that Lincoln created Thanksgiving?

It is also wonderful that snippets of Lincoln's most famous speeches are enclosed, so the reader can see the beauty of Lincoln's language and the greatness of his thoughts.

This book would be ideal for research, for pleasure reading, for photography buffs, and as a classroom aid.

Picnic Basket Rating: 5

Kathleen Breitenbach said...

I grew up near Springfield, IL, and I've been to just about all of the Lincoln sites mentioned in this book. I was impressed that the author included sources for the information and the Lincoln quotes, as well as resources for further study. I do agree it is a good source for Lincoln's bicentenial, and the information about photography in Lincoln's day is very interesting. I would be interested in another source of, say, Kennedy through Television - how television impacted Kennedy's actions and how the nation percieved his administration. All in all, I'd rate it a 3. It's good among other Lincoln books, but I wouldn't plan any special activities just around this book. Also, the text on red pages was very hard to see.

Kathleen Breitenbach
Children's Librarian
North Chicago Public Library
North Chicago, IL

loonyhiker said...

I love books with pictures but especially ones with photos. This book about Lincoln had awesome photos. The only problem I had was the glare of overhead lights on the shiny pages so sometimes I would have to tilt the book certain ways to see the photos. This book not only tells the story about Lincoln, but also about the history of photography. I didn’t realize how Lincoln used photography to his own advantage. As I went through the book, I got a better feel for what Lincoln’s life was like. There were even some photos that I had never seen before. This book would be a great resource for students to use when researching information about Lincoln. I would definitely give this book a rating of 5.

Pat Hensley
Successful Teaching
Greenville, SC

Beverley Buller said...

This book is, appropriately, a visual delight. It's also formatted in a way that will appeal to reluctant readers--each subject in a two-page spread. Students will pick it up just to look at the photos, but their eyes will drift over to the text on the facing page or the photo will create curiosity and they'll pick up some information. There are a few websites and a brief bibliography for futher reading as well as an index so it could be used for research purposes.
That being said, I found a few odd things. Neither Lincoln's home and museum/library in Springfield, IL, are included in the list of places to visit, either online (websites allow tour-taking) or in person. These are paramount when I share Lincoln information with my students. There's also some misinformation on page 70--THE Appomattox Courthouse, as Sandler refers to it, is not where the surrender took place. It took place in the front room of a farmhouse owned by a man named McLean (there's even a great picture book written about it), and the photo looks like it's of said house, located in Appomattox Courthouse, VA. I checked to see if there was some revisionism going on, but the McLean house seems to still officially the site. Finally, I was surprised to see the photo of Booth's corpse. Even James Swanson (whose MANHUNT is listed as a source) didn't include that photo in his children's adaptation.
While I obviously do have minor reservations, I would still give this book a 4 rating due to its broad appeal.

Beverley Buller
Middle school library media specialist

The Black Family said...

This book was a fabulous read. I brought it to my girl's night, which is a group of mostly stay-at-home moms and they couldn't put it down either. The pictures were fascinating and the format was perfect. Each page gave just enough information, but not so much as it turned into a biography. The focus really was on photography and how it shaped Lincoln's presidency. I give this book 5 out of 5.

Lindsey, Title I Teacher

LifeLongLearner said...

Rating 5 stars out of 5

This non-fiction book featuring Abraham Lincoln features exceptional photography. What a great way for our fifth graders to celebrate his 200th birth celebration.

Margo Maust Jantzi

Cub Run Elementary Library Media Specialist---Virginia

Anonymous said...

Lincoln Through the Lens by Martin Sandler

I cannot say enough about this book. I shared with an administrator and he too found it to be of high value. (His former life as a social studies teacher was eager to see the whole thing.) I promised to share this with teachers K-12 and I highly recommend this to all--students and educators.
It is so real and timely that it can not be "previewed" without coming to the end. Fits in nicely with History planned instruction and social studies standards.
I give this book a 5!

Caren Pence
Instructional Teacher Coach
Warren County School District
Warren, PA

Barbara Duggan said...

This text nicely ties in the emergence of a new technology (photography) and the emergence of Lincoln as a political leader. The human side of Lincoln is documented: his sense of humor, his love for his wife and sons, his sense of sadness.

To help flesh out this book, the author has included photos of Civil war generals, enlisted men, the Booth reward poster, Richmond in ruins, and more. Many of these photos are large format, b/w and sepia, with restrained use of color throughout the book.

My middle school students helped me open the packaging and did not want to put this book down!

I would rate this an enthusiastic 5/5.

B. Duggan
Reading resource teacher

wordwarrior said...

"Lincoln Through the Lens" is a captivating non fiction treasure. So many avenues can be explored through the reading of this book by Martin Sandler. Abraham Lincoln is such a dynamic person in history that it is difficult to find a new and interesting way to showcase his legacy, yet Sandler has done just that in a wonderfully informative and engaging manner. Through the use of photographs and the history of the photos the reader learns interesting details, many I had never learned before. I particularly enjoyed the format of the pages with pictures, history of the photos, and quotes from Lincoln's life. This book would be an asset to any library, youth or adult. I have shown it to many teachers in my High School Building and they were all impressed with it. I can see it being used for studying civil war, presidency, or even black history as all the forementioned topics are covered in context to Lincoln's life and legacy. I would certainly give this book a 5 out of 5 as a must for any library or teacher to own.

Anonymous said...

Lincoln Through the Lens: How Photography Revealed and Shaped an Extraordinary Life is filled with many interesting facts about Abraham Lincoln that are sure to aid students engaged in researching one of our more famous Presidents. For me, relating how photos shaped President Lincoln's life, seem to fall flat. Because I am not a history "buff", I found it difficult to keep my attention focused for a long period of time. Because I think this book is a valuable research tool, I rate it a 3.

Julia Pitau, Media & Intervention Technician
Denair Charter Academy
Denair, CA

Martine Battista said...

Every so often I get a student who is enthralled with the Civil War. This collection of fantastic photographs will certainly be appreciated by our history buffs. My favorite features are the quotes which adorn each page. I am glad that the source of the quotes are listed in the back of the book, but I would have preferred that they appear with the quote. Knowing the situation Lincoln was in when he wrote or spoke each statement makes it more meaningful. I give this book a 4. Denair Middle School, Denair CA

Mila said...

Lincoln Through the Lens, gave another solid biography of the life of the sixteenth President. The photographs that are included in the book complement the text and serve as a visual aide. It's also interesting that the text and photograph not only chronologically tells the Lincoln stories but also incorporates it with other photographs of the time.
Picnic basket rating: 4.5...

Allyn Hunt said...

Simple put: this is an amazing book. I cannot wait to use it with my middle school students as we look critically at media literacy and all of its components.

The photographs are breathtaking and I cannot begin to imagine the amount of research that went into putting together this book. There are so many angles you can take to teach from this book: elections, Civil War, slavery, importance of writing and oratory - the list could go on for some time.

Amazing book. Thank you for this delightful opportunity to review it. "Lincoln Through the Lens" is a definite picnic basket must.

5 out of 5

A. Hunt
Middle School Language Arts Teacher

MLCS said...

My 4th graders are very excited about this book. They even told me the Art teacher had it. The love to look at it & are happy to read about Abe Lincoln. They enjoy the photographs and comparing his aging and the war. It came out at an opportune time in February and sparked a new appreciate for Lincoln. They know more now than he wore a tall hat. Thank you. A picnic must 5

Title 1 teacher, South Jordan, UT said...

Recommend sharing with discretion. A treasury of photos sure to instill love for Abe in the readers heart. However, I oppose children viewing pictures of the war fatalities and the gallows.
I am saddened that many children today are so accustomed to viewing pictures of dead bodies and murder victims that they would not relate to Abe's feelings of guilt after shooting a wild turkey. SHP
Majestic Elementary Title 1 First-Sixth
South Jordan, UT

Zion Lutheran School Library. said...

Lincoln Through the Lens:
How Photography Revealed and Shaped an Extraordinary Life
By Martin W. Sandler
Picnic Basket Rating: 5

This excellent biography of Lincoln portrays him as a media savvy candidate and president who used the developing technology of photography to his advantage. It’s an interesting presentation in light of our recent election where many of the candidates took advantage of today’s technologies in their own campaigns much as Lincoln used photography. Young readers will find themselves engrossed by the pictures so much so that they will gravitate to the accompanying text to learn more. Some of the photographs are dramatic, such as the enlarged photo that shows Lincoln at the Gettysburg dedication and a long-lost photo of Lincoln lying in state. Young readers who can’t get enough of Lincoln will enjoy ‘Lincoln Through the Lens’. A great addition to any Lincoln collection.

Karen Sutera
Zion Lutheran School
Marengo, IL

rauzer said...

This was a unique look at Lincoln's life and presidency. I appreciated the art work of the time (posters and artists's drawings) with the photographs. Pieces of photography history were intertwined with the book. The little details are extraordinary. For example, you have a picture of Lincoln before he became president on the cover and you open to the last picture taken of him. My students enjoyed the details of Booth and his coconspirators. I give this book a 5 star. Thank you for sending this out before the anniversary!

Chris Rau
5th grade teacher

Lisa said...

I would give this book a five rating. Sandler has written a detailed history of Abraham Lincoln in a very unique fashion. He brings Lincoln's life and career to life with photographs from the time period. Each two page spread is a new topic related to Lincoln's life and each topic is accompanied by one or more photographs. Even though many of the photos aren't of Lincoln himself, they still provide readers with a glimpse into his life and the era in which Lincoln lived. Through reading the book, young readers will learn factual information about one of our greatest presidents. They will also be introduced into this era of our history through visuals. Throughout the book readers can also find out some information about the history of photography and how it influenced Lincoln's career. The photographs are useful in helping readers see history rather than just read it. I believe this will motivate students to become more interested in learning about this part of our past as well as others.

Tilda Sumerel, Franklin County Alabama School System said...

This book brings together many illustrations and photos of Abraham Lincoln which span his life as well as the times in which he lived. It gives the readers an opportunity to learn about the changes in his appearance throughout his life as well as information about key events of his life and times. Important Lincoln quotes are provided to accompany the text which provides a synopsis of important events. Lincoln related places to visit and websites are also included to help curious readers expand their knowledge of the subject. The purpose of the book is to show how photography can be an important method to learn about someone. I would highly recommend this book for middle and high school students who are working on social studies projects related to Lincoln or the time period of his life.

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