UPDATE: A great new review of the book from School Library Journal.
“What you can know for sure is that this is a book you should add to your shelves.”
HOPKINSON, Deborah. Abe Lincoln Crosses a Creek: A Tall, Thin Tale (Introducing His Forgotten Frontier Friend). illus. by John Hendrix. Random/Schwartz & Wade Bks. Sept. 2008. Tr $16.99.
K-Gr 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