From School Library Journal
Starred Review. Grade 1–4—Tad and Willie, the mischievous sons of President Abraham Lincoln, scampered around the White House surprising and irritating almost everyone. Their pranks, however, delighted their father, who was faced with the grim realities of the Civil War. After an introductory few pages that will help children understand the historical context, Rabin strings several stories together. One time the boys rigged all the service bells in the attic to ring at once, causing both chaos and concern: "Servants rushed up and down the stairs, wondering who had called them," and Lincoln's secretaries feared a national crisis. Another time, they interrupted a serious war-planning meeting with a general, bouncing on their father's knees, pulling his nose and creating such a commotion that the frustrated general finally said, "Mr. President, can't you do something about those rascals?!" to which Lincoln replied, "Let the children have a good time." Rabin includes the story of the pardoning of Jack, the children's doll that, dressed like a flashy Zouave soldier, committed many military infractions. An extensive author's note explains that the incident was drawn from Tad Lincoln's Father
, written by Julia Taft, a family friend who often served as the boys' nanny. Fictionalized dialogue throughout is believable. A large part of the appeal of this book can be credited to Ibatoulline's masterful illustrations. Evocative and detailed, they fill the pages with visual information and emotion. Readers will be intrigued by the antics of these famous children.—Lee Bock, Glenbrook Elementary School, Pulaski, WI
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Admitting to minor invention but in general sticking to historical records, Rabin portrays Lincoln’s rambunctious young sons Tad and Willie roaming freely about the early Civil War White House—irritating officials, playing pranks on the staff, and bursting in on their indulgent father for horseplay or, once, to request a “pardon” for an offending toy soldier. Drawing from contemporary photos and prints, Ibatoulline crafts finely detailed, sepia-tone period scenes, populated by excellent likenesses of Lincoln and other historical figures. Closing with notes on most of the people and incidents in the book, plus a digestible list of further sources, this glimpse of Lincoln as a family man makes a memorable entry in the upcoming rush of titles issued to celebrate next year’s 200th anniversary of his birth. Grades 2-4. --John Peters