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My Best Friend, Abe Lincoln

By Robert L. Bloch
Big Tent Books

11400 Hampshire Avenue South
Savannah, GA 31419

Abraham Lincoln is a name even the youngest students seem to learn early on. My own fascination with the tall, lanky gentleman has never waned. In My Best Friend, Abe Lincoln, fictional character Sam Harding is a 10-year old boy living in Indiana. He befriends 11-year old schoolmate Abe Lincoln. The two share many adventures together, from fishing to playing with their Kickapoo Indian friends. Sam's description of his pal includes Abe's love of learning and reading, his ability to tell stories and share his opinions, and his strong work ethic. On a trip to Kentucky, the friends witness a slave market, which impacts both of them and makes Abe very angry.

A few years later, Sam moves away and doesn't hear anything more of his friend until 35 years later, when he reads about the Lincoln-Douglas slavery debates in Illinois. Sam tells of Lincoln's rise to the American presidency and his ultimately successful campaign to end slavery.

This work of historical fiction is aimed at ages 5 through 8. It could be used as a read-aloud (by either the student or teacher) for the subjects of language arts or history. While it is obviously not a complete curriculum, it is a satisfying complement. In fact, on the book's website, readers can learn even more about the author and illustrator as well as play puzzle games.

My son is reluctant to read. However, when he saw this story was about Abe Lincoln, he was excited about reading it himself. He read it out loud to me and very much enjoyed the story. It inspired further discussion about American history based on the questions and comments he expressed. He even cried when we talked about slavery. My tough little boy showed me his heart.

While I appreciated and enjoyed this story, there were some things that required further explanation to my 8-year old. There were a few words that were either tough for my son to figure out how to pronounce or words or phrases he didn't understand. However, and more importantly, the end of the story leaves the reader with the conclusion that the Civil War was about ending slavery. Well, yes, that was one of the reasons the North and South fought, but it was not the only reason. I think there was a missed opportunity to point that out to young students. I also hoped for a glimpse of Lincoln's Christian walk, but that was missing.

Creating a desire to read and to learn about history are important goals for our homeschool, so I am pleased to include My Best Friend, Abe Lincoln in our home library. It's a great choice for my younger kids and for other children who visit and browse our shelves.

Product review by Krystin Corneilson, The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, LLC, August 2011

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