Book review: My Best Friend, Abe Lincoln

When my daughters were little, we had a series of books called "Value Tales." The stories were of famous people as told through the eyes of their fictional sidekicks—sometimes animals, other times humans.

My Best Friend, Abe Lincoln: A Tale of Two Boys from Indiana by Robert L. Bloch and illustrated by John W. Ewing reminded me much of the Value Tales series I once read with the girls.

The delightful tale, meant for kids ages 5-8, gives an idea of what Lincoln was like during his early years, ages 11-14, according to his fictional best friend, Sam Harding. Most of the story focuses on Lincoln's character, such as his love of learning and his scorn of slavery, but there are the requisite references to his tall and skinny stature, as well.

What I loved about the book: The simple language and references to activities kids relate to, such as playing hide and seek, fishing, and attending school, help the book resonate with young boys. Reaching youngsters on their level may introduce them to a historical figure they may possibly have not yet heard much about, and could lead them to research more about Lincoln on their own. The delightful illustrations from Ewing, a former illustrator for Walt Disney Studios (he worked on Sleeping Beauty and other classics), further draw young readers to Lincoln's story. On a personal level, it was great to read the term "blab school" and have no idea what it was, until looking it up online after reading the book. Learning new things from a book is always a plus!

What I didn't love so much: A disclaimer at the start of the book states that while some of the passages are based on true historical events, "others are from the imagination of the author." I spent more time than I should have wondering if young readers would incorrectly believe some of the stories are facts, possibly even use them in a future report or paper on Lincoln. Maybe?

Bottom line: My Best Friend, Abe Lincoln introduces kids to one of the more upstanding figures in American history and the positive character traits that made him a great man. Definitely nothing wrong with that.

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