“'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

Our Abe Lincoln • Picture Book

Our Abe Lincoln: An Old Tune with New Lyrics
by Jim Aylesworth • illustrated by Barbara McClintock
January 2009Scholastic • Picture book
As the curtain rises in a school auditorium, the audience waits with excited anticipation. Soon a cast of spirited schoolchildren will portray the life of Abraham Lincoln through a simple, delightful musical biography.
Story: Wise Abe Lincoln said, "No More!" to slavery/"No More!" to slavery/"No More!" to slavery/Wise Abe Lincoln said, "No More!" to slavery/Many brave days ago. Aylesworth adapted a song used during Lincoln's president campaign to the tune of "The Old Grey Mare" to tell Lincoln's story to the very youngest readers. Includes musical score. Be prepared for lots of singing along! Author's note provides facts/timeline of Lincoln's life.
Story behind the story: Jim Aylesworth is the well-loved author of more than 30 books for children -- and his 25 years as a first-grade teacher have taught him exactly what children love best in a book. Aylesworth tells his stories with generous doses of loud sounds, rhythms and rhymes. Barbara McClintock -- honored four times by The New York Times for Best Illustrated Children's Books of the Year -- got her inspiration for these 19th-century style illustrations from her costume and set designs for the Minneapolis Children's Theatre Company.

★"With a fresh approach to Lincoln that is both delightful and accurate, Aylesworth sets history to the tune of “The Old Gray Mare” and the derivative song “Our Abe Lincoln Came Out of the Wilderness,” which was popular during the 16th president’s campaign. Lincoln’s life is depicted in the singsong verse through the framing devise of students performing a grade-school play....McClintock captures the exuberance with charming visuals that outline significant aspects of the leader’s life and lore. As an introduction for young children, this is a perfect resource, for the engaging images and catchy phrasing as well as for the larger story that it so deftly summarizes." -- School Library Journal, 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 to read what your colleagues have to say.


Anonymous said...

This is a great picture book. The illustrations are wonderful and it gives information about Lincoln that little kids would understand. It has catchy tune that is easy to sing along with. Another thing that is great is the timeline that is in the back of the book-its a great reference.

MP Bernhard said...

Oh my gosh! What a beautiful book. It really portrays the life of Abe Lincoln in an easy and enjoyable format. The biography at the end of the book is an excellent resouce.

Anonymous said...

I shared the book today with 3rd and 4th graders they appreciated the wonderful illustrations and the text. This is an excellent way to convey facts in a fun fashion. The additional history facts were very helpful. I would rate this book a 5.

Cyndi Candiloro
Readsboro Community Library
Readsboro, VT 05350

Lena Sanella said...

Rating 4

This book can be sung to the tune of The Old Gray Mare, which makes the repetition fun for younger children. This illustrations are charming. The children in the book are acutally performing a play about the life of Abe Lincoln. I used this 'story within a story' to discuss setting with my 4th graders. The picture of a child dressed as Abe on the cover raised their curiosity. I particularly appreciated the author's note in which each page of the book is expanded on with details (dates) from Lincoln's life. This was useful for a sequencing activity. As an added treat, the recipe for Mary Todd Lincoln's Vanilla Almond Cake is given on the back cover! If I'd received this book earlier I would have baked it and brought it to class---something to look forward to next year!

ahslibrarian said...

From the first line of “Our Abe Lincoln” to the last the book sings itself. Drawing upon the annals of Lincoln’s presidential campaign for material this song/book/historical record provides the perfect introduction for young children.

Teachers and children will have many opportunities for success with this book. It can be read, but why? Set to the tune of “The Old Gray Mare,” this book demands a sing-aloud by the reader. Anything less will just miss the point. And the point is that children can and should be taught in an engaging manner. That method is also emphasized by Barbara McClintock’s illustrations that suggest that children can recreate the scene in their own public performance donned in period attire.

This is one book that embeds a body of core knowledge into the hearts and minds of children in a way that will develop into a lifetime memory that can be shared and recalled again and again. Teachers of Pre-K and early elementary aged children will also find ample opportunities to pair movement with the lyrics and create their own interpretations of the work. Add this book with confidence to any collection, but be prepared to sing.

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

ahslibrarian said...

BTW - Better than any Valentine candy 5 out of 5

Lisa Kennedy said...

Oh my, if only I had been able to share this with our kindergarten teachers prior to Abraham Lincoln's 200th birthday. There would have been quite the performance I'm sure. I can't wait for next year. This is a terrific book with information available to younger students that they will learn and enjoy by singing the lesson. Parents will delight in the abilities of the youngsters to share an insight into the life of our sixteenth president. Our school music teacher will love the history laden words to the tune of The Old Gray Mare. The art teacher will appreciate the adorable illustrations. I love the book from cover to cover and give it a full 5 on the Picnic Basket rating scale!

K. Deeb Sarasota Florida said...

Excellent picture book! The illustrated pictures of Abe Lincoln's life were beautiful plus very enjoyable. This book is an excellent history picture book to add to anyone's library.

Jacqueline Simmons, M.Ed said...

Our Abe Lincoln arrived today and I shared it with a Kindergarten student and a first grade student. The front cover is absolutely wonderful! The first grade student told me that he liked the book. The first grade student enjoyed the cover due to the vivid colors and a cute Abe Lincoln gracing the cover! The illustrations captured the first graders imagination. The best part that the first grader liked is the first page. The first grade student liked the first page "because the school was preparing for an assembly". The first grade student enjoyed the text, however; he stumbled on words, like wilderness. The first grade student enjoyed the fact that Abe Lincoln worked hard and he read books. The first grader liked the Author's Note at the end of the book and so did I. The kindergarten student enjoyed looking at the illustrations, even though he could not understand the entire text. I enjoyed reading this book because the author showcases Mr. Lincoln as a young boy working and fighting for a better American society. The illustrations are cute and dazzling for children. The kindergarten student thought that the book "was cool". I think that the book is cool too! I rate this book five stars *****!

Liz said...

Excellent book....definitely a 5!!
The story is easy to understand for a younger child while covering the highlights of Abe Lincoln's life. The illustrations are fantastic! The kids loved being able to read the story to a catchy tune, helping them to remember some of the facts of the story. For the older grade levels, the historical timeline is definitely a plus that further explains the text. EXCELLENT!

Anonymous said...

Jim Aylesworth does it again! This large, bright picture book provides a fun way to introduce young children to the life of Abraham Lincoln. Children who are ready to make connections to what they already know will enjoy the snippets of Lincoln's life encapsulated in the song, and others will enjoy the simple melody and words as they introduce children to Abe Lincoln's life. I look forward to using it with my story hour group.

Susan O'Connell

Mandy said...

What a wonderful picture book! The unique style of writing and illustrations made this book very enjoyable for my class. The extended information at the back was an excellent example for students to see how authors can craft their books.

Pamela Kramer said...

Our Abe Lincoln
Adapted by Jim Aylesworth
Illustrated by Barbara McClintock

This book about the life of Abraham Lincoln is cleverly written to be sung to the tune of “The Old Grey Mare,” and once you know that, you can’t help but “sing” the book to yourself while reading it. The rhythm and the words are contagious. It’s impossible to just read the book without thinking of the melody!

The illustrations are reminiscent of Maurice Sendak’s illustrations. Instead of trying to use the real Abe Lincoln as a model, the drawings are of children dressed in the various roles as Abe, his wife, slaves, soldiers and others. The first pages show children in a school auditorium getting ready to put on a show about “Our Abe Lincoln,” so the illustrations make sense.

Although this book does not really impart any detailed information about this important historical figure, it does present Abe Lincoln in a simple fashion that a primary student might remember. It’s fun to look at, fun to sing, and would be a great addition to any picnic!

Rating: 4.5/5

Pamela Kramer
Reading Teacher
Oak Terrace School
Highwood, Illinois

Kathleen Breitenbach said...

This is a fantastic book, and I've had the song stuck in my head since I recieved the book in the mail. This would be fabulous with elementary school kids, and I was very pleased that this book was not only a good introduction to Lincoln, but made the subject relatable without getting gorey. Barbara McClintock's illustrations conveyed so much detail it was hard not to love. The use of children performing Lincoln's story also helped with its relatability. Of all the new Lincoln books on the market now, this is definitely a keeper! I give it a 5.

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

SueHInman said...

This is a fun learning tool and great picture book all in one. Through the song and picture, it tells the story of Abe Lincoln that children are sure to enjoy and remember as well, through singing. I especially enjoyed the Author's Note at the end of the book, giving the facts behind the stanzas.

kokomana said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
kokomana said...

Charming book! The illustrations are endearing and lovely. I like how the adaptation of the song “Our Abe Lincoln” is presented within the frame of elementary school children presenting a play, through the illustrations. This truly ties the illustrations to the words.

In presenting Our Abe Lincoln to some of my first graders today, I introduced the book by way of talking about Presidents’ Day and set up the book as a biography within a song. I told the class I would be singing and they could sing along if they wanted. On the third verse about half the kids joined in. They very quickly figured out the form and repetition. On the Gettysburg and Lincoln’s death verses I slowed the pace of the song to a dirge. The kids adapted easily, and then happily finished the last verse at normal speed. After, the children applauded themselves. All in all, this book made an excellent biography/history/music lesson, greatly enjoyed by all. I’ll be sure to use it again next year to celebrate Presidents’ Day.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Monica Bildner
Assistant Librarian
St. Rita School
Dallas, TX

Sandra Stiles said...

I loved the book and all of its wonderful pictures. I had to teach the tune to my ESOL students as they were unfamiliar with it. I really liked the facts in the back and many students wrote down the recipe on the back cover. I give this a 5

NKemp said...

This picture book was shared with 2nd grade and 4th grade. The students thought the book told the important events in Abraham Lincoln's life. They also thought the book had great illustrations. We will use the book again!

We rated the book at 3.5 on a 5 point scale.

Rebecca said...

Thd book. I loe that it was set to music, we sang it a few times. It was easy to read the in the illustrations were beautiful. I highly recommend it.

spmdmom said...

This delightful book is a fun read aloud (sing along) with younger students and could serve as a writing model for older students to use when presenting biographical research.

Laurie Levitt
Severna Park Elementary

Anonymous said...

This was great story that was able to hold the interest of my preschool class and teach them about Abe Lincoln. They enjoyed the pictures of a child dressed as Abe Lincoln. There were some words in the story that they didn't know the meaning of which led us to a discussion on how life was different a LONG time ago. It was great book that I will use again in my lesson plans!!!

PLLoggerR said...

Our Abe Lincoln is a illustrated biography of Abraham Lincoln set to the tune of The Old Grey Mare. Jim Aylesworth has done a fine job of setting to verse, vignettes from Lincoln's life. Barbara McClintock has created wonderful illustrations for each verse.

At first I did not realize that the book was more than just the "song"--it's also a play being put on by school children. One has to infer this from the opening illustration as there is no accompanying text. Once I realized this, I understood why Abe always was about the same age and size even though the scenes were of him as he grew. The Author's Note at the end gives very brief, but more detailed, information about each of the scenes portrayed. I felt this added considerably to the book.

A good book to start a discussion of Lincoln and maybe create your own story / play / song about him or another historical character. I see a lot of potential here.

A picnic basket 4.

Becky Jensen
Co-Director, Peacham Library

Anonymous said...

A simple, yet complex song and story of Abraham Lincoln's life and times. The repetition makes this book easy enough to use with younger children, while some of the vocabulary opens up higher level discussion to challenge older learners. I would rate this book a 4 and recommend it to elementary teachers, with even the possibility of sharing it with music teachers.

Reviewed by K.I. Elementary teacher

jwelch said...

I love the format of this book - school children acting out Abe Lincoln's life in a play. The illustrations are great and I love that the book is singable. I can imagine that this is a book that children would want reread over and over again.

Rating: 4

Stacy Buchmoyer said...

My Kindergarten students and the visiting first grade students thoroughly enjoyed this book. The illustrations captured their interest as well as the catchy tune that reinforced important facts about Lincoln's life. We will definitely be using it again and it's a book that students continue to enjoy in our reading corner as the illustrations challenge them to remember what took place.

debnance said...

Jim Aylesworth hits the high points of Abe Lincoln's life in his
adaption of a popular song of Lincoln's Day, "Our Abe Lincoln," sung to the tune of "The Old Grey Mare." The story is very simple but should reinforce the most cogent parts of Lincoln's life with young children. The pictures are clever and appeal to kids.

Loved this book.

Debbie Nance, Librarian
Stevenson Primary School
Alvin, TX

Susan Appleton said...

This book is a beautiful picture book that very simply takes us through the life of Lincoln. I loved the facts at the back of the book too that explain the verses of the song. I also had to sit down at the piano and play the tune! It would be great if a little CD of the song was included, but I would rate this book a 5. Beautiful inside and out!

Amy said...

I read this book to my 6th grade students this week ( I teach Language Arts and History) and they LOVED IT! The illustrations were very impressive but the entire song/story was just so much fun for them. Plus, it was perfect timing with our recent celebration of Abe's 200th birthday. However, because this book was so nice, it's not going on the children's classroom library shelf, but on Miss A's :)

wordwarrior said...

I was very pleased with the arrival of my copy of "Our Abe Lincoln." The illustrations are ondergul and the textset to tell Lincoln's story to the tune of the old grey mare made reading the book so much fun! I can see this book in any elementary classroom, but my first thought when it came was that it would be perfect for an elementary vocal music teacher to share in celebration of president's day activities. I rate it a 5.

Anonymous said...

My second graders loved singing along with this book and looking at the illustrations. We sang the story several times to help improve fluency. The book also related nicely to our current unit of study on drama/plays. This book is a really fun way to learn interesting facts about our 16th president. We loved it...5!
- Jen Sherman
Second Grade

Tina's Blog said...

This is a great book on Lincoln for early childhood -preschool-kingergarten - aged kids. The illustrations are delightful, and the text is repetitive so that it is easily remembered. The fact that the music is included is another great feature and I can see kids enjoying singing this tune. The author's note at the end gives more information about Lincoln's life for those who want to know more.

Anonymous said...

Our Abe Lincoln is a wonderful introduction of Abraham Lincoln to Kindergarten and first grades. Written to the tune of "The Old Grey Mare", I imagine students will be eager to follow along, especially with the accompaniment of a piano! This book should be at all elementary school libraries and is why I rank it a 5.

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

Martine Battista said...

Simple, sweet and effective! I thoroughly enjoyed this book as did our primary students. Every year our 2nd graders put on a patriotic show. The children's production depicted at the end of the book delighted our 3rd graders with fond memories of their own performance. I am glad this has become a part of our collection. I rate it a solid 4. (Denair Elementary School. Denair, CA)

Linda Biondi said...

What timing! I love this book. The quality of the text and the illustrations are phenomenal. It gives you a glimpse into the life of Lincoln, and is appropriate for grades K-5. It can also be a model for writing about another figure in history.

Tegan Sexton said...

Rating - 4
This is a great picture book. Students love the opportunity to use their musical intelligence to relate to subject matter. Incorporating an old standard with lyrics about dear ol' Abe is a great way to familiarize students with one of our great presidents!
Tegan Sexton
4th Grade Teacher
Magnolia Park Elementary
Ocean Springs, MS

Zion Lutheran School Library. said...

Our Abe Lincoln
By Jim Aylesworth
Illustrated by Barbara McClintock
Picnic Basket Rating: 5

I love this book. This is a perfect picture book biography of Abraham Lincoln to share with preschoolers, Kindergartners and 1st graders. As the book begins, we see children getting ready to present a play called ‘Our Abe Lincoln’. Each two-page spread shows another act in the play, or episode in Lincoln’s life. Some of the episodes are familiar, such as his log cabin birth and his election to the presidency. But some may be new - his family’s early three-sided home in Indiana or Lincoln’s visit to a customer he had overcharged. The story can be sung to the tune of ‘The Old Grey Mare’ and I think this will make it a hit with young listeners. Barbara McClintock’s illustrations of the costumed kids portraying the historical characters are charming. Some of the pictures are so detailed one could make an ‘I Spy’ game and have readers pouring over the book for hours. The aspect I liked best about ‘Our Abe Lincoln’ is the way Lincoln’s death is handled. There is no mention of the assassination, which can be a tough topic to talk about with very young children. Instead, the words and accompanying illustration tell of Lincoln’s death in such a way that help kids realize how tragic it was without dwelling on specifics. Highly recommended, ‘Our Abe Lincoln’ is a title I’m looking forward to using again with our youngest students.

Karen Sutera
Zion Lutheran School
Marengo, IL

Mira said...

This is a great book to share with young readers! They will love learning facts about Abe Lincoln's life, while singing along with the simple tune. The illustrations are vivid and attractive. I can see this being the basis for a classroom performance of the book- easily made into reader's theater. I give this book a 5!

The Black Family said...

I loved the illustrations in this book. They were unique and each page could be stared at for several minutes while your eyes move from section to section. For grades K-3, this would be a very fun Big Book, or overhead, where the students could sing to the tune of The Old Gray Mare. The repetition is easy for these younger students to remember, and the facts are built into the song well. I give this book a 4 out of 5, just because I believe even as you get into 3rd grade, students would be more unwilling to sing, which is what really would make using the book fun. So, the audience is somewhat limited. A very cute book though!

Lindsey B.
Title I Teacher, Utah

Donna said...

My class of first graders really enjoyed singing along to the words in this book! They caught on very quickly and gave this book "two thumbs up". The illustrations were beautiful and my students truly enjoyed seeing Lincoln portrayed as a child throughout the book. A great book for teaching time lines and history. This was a great supplement to my President's Day curriculum and I would definitely give this book a 5!

Katherine Farrington, Colonial School District said...

The day I received this book, a kindergarten teacher came to the library looking for an age appropriate book about Abraham Lincoln. I told her I had just gotten one but hadn't had much chance to look at it. She took it and promised to report back on it with her thoughts! She read it to her class and thought it was a great book for kindergarteners. The words are catchy and the repetitive lines made it appealing to 6 years olds. While the text does not contain an abundance of facts, for the lower age level it contains just the right amount to teach them about the importance of Abe Lincoln. I found the illustrations to be a good match for the text. A small picture compliments the illustration that is on the opposite page, and both pictures accurately depict the text. I would rate this book a 5 for library collections for younger kids. It is difficult to find biographies for this age group.

Mrs. Kondrick said...

Our Abe Lincoln is a great addition to my Lincoln library (which had the opportunity to grow this year in celebration of his 200th birthday. My 3-6 grade students enjoyed the rhythm of the book and the song. I admittedly had a case of the goose bumps. I of course knew how the story would end, but the word choice moved me so. The last page of the background facts of each stanza was a great inclusion, giving the reader the answer to “I want to know more!”

Karen Kondrick
Literacy Coach

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

This is a delightful picture book that uses a school setting and a familiar school event, a play, to provide information about the life of Abraham Lincoln. The characters, children in costume for the play, make the story very appealing for young children. We used the book as a read aloud selection for second and third graders. After reading the story, we used the music to sing the lyrics. The students really enjoyed the activities. Several asked if the class could do a play like the story. As a follow-up activity, the students were asked to add a verse to the story. Some included nice Abe Lincoln, fair Abe Lincoln, wonderful Abe Lincoln. The fourth graders who read the book were asked to compose a timeline of the events in Abe Lincoln's life. These were displayed in the library.