Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Lincolns

I really enjoyed reading about Abraham Lincoln's wife and her dearest friend in An Unlikely Friendship: A Novel of Mary Todd Lincoln and Elizabeth Keckley, by the ever so talented Ann Rinaldi. This well written historical fiction will especially appeal to teenage girls as well as adults with an interest in history.

It is organized in a unique way:
1. The day Abraham Lincoln was shot (starting with breakfast)
2. Mary Todd's upbringing in Lexington, Kentucky
3. Elizabeth Keckley's upbringing as a slave
4. The friendship of these two women.

You could certainly say that Mary and Elizabeth (Lizzy) were opposites. Priviledged Mary Todd grew up waited-on by slaves while Lizzy endured the wretched life of a slave. Mary lost her mother early in life and was then subjected to a loathsome step-mother. Lizzy on the other hand was raised in the company of her mother, the plantation's seamstress. And thankfully, her mother taught her how to sew, a skill that eventually earned her freedom and an introduction to the upper-crust of the nation's capitol.

Readers will come away from this story with empathy for those trapped in slavery and a true sense of what Antebellum life was like. A great read.

Ages 12 and up

Another Lincoln title caught my eye this week. The Lincolns: A Scrapbook Look at Abraham and Mary is a thick "scrapbook" containing 156 pages of newspaper clippings, photos, political cartoons and letters from the couples lives all arranged in chronological order. It's chock-full of information making for interesting browsing. Here is one of the many little gems it account of the first time Abraham met Mary:

Tall and gawky, wearing a swallowtail coat that was too short, shabbily patched trousers, and mismatched socks, Abraham made his way to Mary's side. "Miss Todd," he said, "I want to dance with you in the worst way." And, as Mary remembered it, "he certainly did."

Ages 9 and up

Activity: How well do you know the 16th president? Try this Abraham Lincoln Crossword Puzzle.

1 comment:

  1. interesting reads I am sure. I am a fact my dad's name is Abraham Lincoln and we are all distantly related to the former president Lincoln on my dad's side of the family. Small world sometimes! My mom's side is related to George Armstrong Custer.....and my dad's side is also related to Daniel Boone. Dad did a family tree and traced down the lineage some time is rather interesting. Combine all that with the Indian blood also in us...guess that is how you end up with a mix like me! :)