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Abe Lincoln Crosses a Creek: A Tall, Thin Tale (Introducing His Forgotten Frontier Friend) Hardcover – September 9, 2008

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Starred Review. Kindergarten-Grade 3—Hopkinson has created a lively, participatory tale that will surely stand out among the many titles published to honor the 200th anniversary of Lincoln's birth. With a conspiratorial wink at the audience, an omniscient narrator invites readers to watch seven-year-old Abe and his real-life friend Austin Gollaher succumb to the "dare you" lure of a roaring creek and a perilous crossing on a fallen log (an author's note details the genesis of the story). Imagine where we as a nation might be if unsung-hero Austin hadn't been there to rescue impetuous Abraham from his tumble into those tumultuous waters. In dialogic asides and exclamations, the author addresses the illustrator and brings him (or, rather, his pencil-wielding hand) onstage to collaborate and correct, and also speaks to readers, inviting involvement and evoking response. Hendrix's illustrations have a naive and rustic flavor that's in perfect harmony with the gravelly, homespun narrator's voice (keen-eyed readers will find a rendering of the storyteller in the endpaper art). Energetic spreads give a big, broad, horizontal view of the green Kentucky valley setting with its rambling curves, rolling mountains, and rushing waters, and a very effective impression of how long that creek-crossing must have seemed…maybe. "For that's the thing about history," Hopkinson says, "if you weren't there, you can't know for sure." What you can know for sure is that this is a book you should add to your shelves.—Kathy Krasniewicz, Perrot Library, Old Greenwich, CT
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From Booklist

*Starred Review* In 1816, seven-year-old Abe and his friend Austin go down to see Knob Creek, swollen and turbulent after heavy rains, and decide to use a log to cross it. When Abe falls into the water, Austin saves his life and Abe promises that he’ll never forget it. Even when he’s the president of a war-torn country, Abe fondly remembers his old friend. That’s the short version of the story, but this unusual and often amusing picture book offers much more than an illustrated reminiscence. Hopkinson sets a folksy tone at the beginning, saying that she liked this old tale so much that she’s asked her friend John “to help out by drawing some pictures.” The accompanying maplike ink-and-watercolor artwork shows the landscape of the Kentucky setting along with several elements of the narrative, even as the hand and brush of the illustrator get caught in the act of creating the scene. Hopkinson’s comments to herself, her audience, and her friend (the artist) will increase children’s awareness of the choices that go into telling a tale, even a supposedly true tale, and illustrating it. On the closing pages, the restatement of the moral is funny as well as thought provoking. Rewarding on many levels, this high-spirited picture book is an engaging example of metafiction for the younger set. Preschool-Grade 3. --Carolyn Phelan

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 4 - 8 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool - 3
  • Lexile Measure: 600L (What's this?)
  • Series: AWARDS: Young Hoosier Primary Awards 2010-2011
  • Hardcover: 40 pages
  • Publisher: Schwartz & Wade (September 9, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 037583768X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375837685
  • Product Dimensions: 11.9 x 0.4 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #555,596 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Deborah Hopkinson is as award-winning of picture books, fiction, and nonfiction for young readers. In 2013 she received a Robert F. Sibert Honor and YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction Award honor for Titanic: Voices from the Disaster.

She has won the SCBWI Golden Kite Award for Picture Book Text twice, for A Band of Angels and Apples to Oregon. Sky Boys, How They Built the Empire State Building, was a Boston Globe/Horn Book Honor awardee. She lives near Portland, Oregon.

The Great Trouble, A Mystery of London, the Blue Death, and a Boy Called Eel won the OCTE Oregon Spirit Award and was named a Best Book of 2013 by School Library Journal and an Oregon Book Award finalist.

Deborah's forthcoming books in 2015-16 include: nonfiction about WWII entitled Courage & Defiance; Beatrix Potter and the Unfortunate Tale of a Borrowed Guinea Pig, illustrated by Charlotte Voake; a middle grade novel called A Bandit's Tale, The Muddled Misadventures of a Pickpocket; a picture book about sea turtles called Follow the Moon Home (with Philippe Cousteau), and a historical fiction picture book entitled Steamboat School, illustrated by Ron Husband.

Visit her on the web at and follow her on Twitter at @deborahopkinson.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Kim on January 22, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I am a literacy coach in a K-4 school. I used this outstanding book for interactive shared reading lessons in grades 1 through 4, and all of the students enjoyed it very much! The text and illustrations are perfect for focusing on comprehension strategies including predicting, questioning, summarizing, interpretation of author's message, and reflection of most important event. The boys and girls enjoyed this tall tale and the engaging elements of humor that the author weaves into the story. The illustrations lend themselves well to discussion, too. This is a beautiful picture book that every elementary reading teacher should add to their collection! Thank you to the author Deborah Hopkinson and the illustrator John Hendrix for a job well-done!
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Format: Hardcover
Abe and his friend Austin got into "more trouble than bear cubs in a candy store." They were just a couple of normal boys who liked to have a little adventure now and then without getting caught. In 1816 the boys lived in Kentucky near Knob Creek. Abe was busy hauling in some wood for his mother while his friend Benjamin Austin Gollaher, "Austin, for short," waited for him on a nearby rock. They were best friends and had a lot of fun together. Austin was three years older, but with boys you never can tell which one is the leader. Abe told Austin about some partridges he'd seen near the creek and they were off to find them. Of course they only wore their "long homespun shirts" just in case they got a little wet.

Nancy, Abe's mother, had warned them about the creek and there it was churning and splashing around the rocks. Abe was pointing toward the other side, while Austin crooked his finger and pensively held it up to his face. "I don't know, Abe. The water's darn high . . . and we can't swim." A little dare from Abe and off they went. Those mudcaked toes made their way across a log, first Austin and then Abe . . . no, it didn't go like that. They crawled across. Austin carefully pulled and pushed himself across the log until he made it to the other side. "YEE-HAW! WHOOOP! He made it. It was Abe's turn and all of a sudden he was "head over heel, and then . . . " What happened to Abe? Was he going to drown in the churning waters of Knob Creek?"

This was an unusual take on a story, a story that changes in the middle of the stream. The author and illustrator are telling their tall tale when all of a sudden they start over and change it a couple of times. "WHOA . . . hold on a minute." Then with the stroke of a pen and brush the story is changed.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Bob on March 26, 2011
Format: Hardcover
This clever book takes place in Kentucky in the early nineteenth century. Even though the book is fictional it is a fun read. This enjoyable tale reminds us of Abraham Lincoln's roots in pioneer America. It's hard to believe Abe went from living in a little log cabin to living in the White House! The illustrations are superb and work well with the story.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Janine Mika on March 11, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Seriously, one of the most creative, imaginative children's books I have seen. Wonderful illustrations. I read it to my Kindergartener but soon found all my kids listening and laughing along with the story. One to add to your collection - just because it's so fun.

Thank you!
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