George Sullivan. Abraham Lincoln. Scholastic, 2001. ISBN 978-0439095549 pp. $
“More books have been written about Lincoln than any other American,” says Sullivan in his biography of our sixteenth President. Not all of them are well done–but this one is excellent and deserves a place on the shelf next to Freedman’s Caldecott award-wining Lincoln: A Photobiography (Houghton Mifflin, 1987).
Sullivan defines primary and secondary sources, then describes the life and times of Lincoln with a liberal sprinkling of quotes from the President and those who knew him. Excerpts from Lincoln’s speeches, letters, and other writings are included, explained, and set into context. The Gettysburg address is reproduced in its brief but effective entirety. The book also gives relates the major events of the Civil War.
The writing is simple and uncluttered, and the oversized text and well-spaced lines make for easy reading. Photos and illustrations add to the narrative without distracting. Chapters are tight and concise, and the design (a mix of contemporary borders with Lincoln’s handwriting gracing new chapters) is the perfect blend of old and new.
The book meets the usual 100 page requirement for biographies for middle school reports; teachers who may be turned off by the large print and compact size will appreciate the attention to detail as well as the scholarly chronology, bibliography, further reading, photo credits, and index. Pair this fine example of citing sources, acknowledging other points of view and relaying research from primary sources with Holzer’s Abraham Lincoln the Writer (Boyds Mill Press 2000).