From School Library Journal
Starred Review. Grade 5 Up—A special memorial edition of "The National News," published a year to the day after Lincoln was assassinated, is how this oversize (12 × 18 inches) chronicle of Lincoln's life is positioned. The combination of a compelling story, engaging visuals, and large format distinguishes this work. Opening with a short note from the publisher that sets the context, the old-fashioned typefaces, stained and yellowed pages, 1860s advertisements, woodcut engravings, and period photographs all contribute to the antique appeal. Details of the president's death are followed by information about the assassin and his accomplices. Following these facts is the history of Lincoln's life, starting with his boyhood, moving through his early years in Illinois, family life with Mary Todd and political career, his rise to the presidency, and, finally, the Civil War, closing with Lee's surrender and the ominous statement: "Five days later Abraham Lincoln became the first president ever assassinated." Ornate running heads listing the time in history and boldface type featuring headlines of the day outline the story, and maps, photos, letters, historical posters, reproductions, and Bing's original artwork appear throughout. Perhaps in keeping with the news-rag style, the author did not include sources, although a chronology of Lincoln's life is added and a note directs readers to the publisher's Web site for bibliographic information. The back page features Whitman's "O Captain! My Captain!" Although too large for most library shelves, the book has great value, and its graphic quality makes it worth the search for space.—Janet S. Thompson, Chicago Public Library
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*Starred Review* This is likely the biggest book yet on Lincoln. Literally. Measuring 12 by 18 inches, it will certainly present some shelving challenges, but the headache is worth it. The concept is that this is a commemorative edition of “The National News,” published one year after Lincoln’s death. The first few pages excerpt articles that appeared (fictitiously) in the days after the assassination, follows the ensuing manhunt (readers accustomed to news traveling at blog-speed will marvel at what was once considered breakneck), and recounts the swift execution of justice. Also included is an engaging, readable yet detailed account of Lincoln’s life that, like most of Abe’s biographies, morphs into a biography of the Civil War. The extraordinary format is designed to look like a nineteenth-century newspaper, complete with time-yellowed pages, multiple fancifully fonted headlines and subheads, woodcut illustrations, archival photographs, and even a smattering of entertaining period ads for all manner of old-timey products. While it has the potential for confusion if taken too literally, the splendid, unusual design of this book, which replicates and illuminates the period atmosphere, is an example of how high-quality bookmaking can turn a history lesson into an authentic experience. A detailed bibliography will be available on a Web site Grades 5-8. --Ian Chipman