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Abraham Lincoln--Bicentennial Edition Review by Tammy Walker

Written and illustrated by Ingri and Edgar Parin d'Aulaire
Beautiful Feet Books
1306 Mill St.
San Luis Obispo, CA 93401
Orders: 800-889-1978
Questions: 805-542-9847

One can hardly begin a homeschooling journey without hearing about "d'Aulaire books." Known for their beautiful artwork and intriguing story telling for little ones, these books find their way into most homeschoolers' bookshelves.

According to information from Beautiful Feet Books, the d'Aulaires wrote Abraham Lincoln at a time when America was debating its role in the war against Hitler. Because of their European background, the d'Aulaires viewed Lincoln as an archetypal hero of their new home, a champion against injustice and tyranny. "It was this spirit they hoped to exemplify in their biography of young Abe as he grew into manhood against the backdrop of the wilderness of Kentucky, the deep woods of Indiana, and the prairies of Illinois. Camping for weeks in Lincoln country, the d'Aulaires imbibed the spirit of the man Lincoln as well as his humor and good will." What resulted from their research was a beautifully written book depicting the humble beginnings of a young boy who loved learning, who would unsuccessfully run for office, would debate against slavery, and would ultimately become president of the United States.

The d'Aulaires created their drawings using stone lithography, an Old World process that required painstaking work on stone slabs. The pictures would be drawn and etched five different times in the primary colors to achieve the rich, hand-drawn look they sought. Nearly 20 years later, the couple began the arduous task of redrawing the artwork in each of their books, as printers were no longer willing to handle the 50-100 pound stone slabs required for lithography. Redrawing the artwork on acetate film caused serious degeneration in the quality, much to the d'Aulaires' distress. It was this degeneration that motivated Beautiful Feet Books to provide this new edition taken from the original 1939 lithographs. For the first time in over 50 years, readers can now enjoy the beauty, color, and clarity of the author's original work. The new process caused serious degeneration of the original works, greatly distressing the d'Aulaires. It is this newer acetate film process that is used in Abraham Lincoln.

This Bicentennial edition of Abraham Lincoln, though maintaining nearly the same content as its predecessor (the portrayal of his wife being slightly different), is amazingly more colorful and detailed. Lincoln's log cabin comes to life, as if the page were hand sketched. The steamboat picture, though beautiful in its 1993 version, explodes with color and depth in the recent facsimile. Even the colorless sketches are richer and more detailed. The publishers hoped to grace a new generation of readers with the original feel of the artists' first publication. The result is a beautiful piece of art. The superior quality of this special edition will amaze you. Cuddle up with your little ones and enjoy!

Product review by Tammy Walker, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, January 2009