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Review: Abe Lincoln’s Dream October 25, 2012

Posted by ccbooks in Book Reviews.
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The metro station near my house is currently plastered with huge quotes from our 16th president, thanks to movie publicity for Lincoln, starring Daniel Day-Lewis. On television and in the newspapers, politicians and pundits argue about what our founding fathers and former presidents would have to say about the state of the country today. Lane Smith’s new book Abe Lincoln’s Dream, is a quiet, gentle reminder that really, we’re doing pretty good.

Abe Lincoln’s Dream opens with Fala, FDR’s pet Scottie growing unaccountably restless as he views a certain room in the White House. He is followed by various other pets, all of whom react to the otherworldly presence in the Lincoln bedroom. It is only when a little girl on a tour (appropriately named Quincy) wanders into the room that a conversation begins with the tall, thin ghost. Amid corny jokes and discussion of recurring dreams (Like the one where “…bears have gotten into your cabin”) Lincoln confesses that he  is restless because “…there was so much to do beyond 1865. Our union was so fragile, so uncertain…” Quincy takes it upon herself to reassure him, traveling magically out of the Executive Mansion (“We just call it the White House now”) across the nation and even into outer space. As they go, Lincoln asks if the states are united, if there is equality, and if man does not ‘fuss and fight’ with his fellow man. Quincy admits that while things are not perfect “…the founding fathers would be proud of our progress.” And that knowledge is enough to send Lincoln, on the last page of the book  “…on a boat moving rapidly toward the rising sun. He was smiling.”

Smith’s pages are filled with his trademark fun typography which never gets so complicated that it becomes illegible. He uses an understated palette of subtle colors that is similar to his Caldecott-Honor winning book from last year, Grandpa Green. Each page is also given light texturing–the crackle of old paint, the grain of wood–that contributes to the overall charm of the pictures. This is the perfect book to read on President’s Day, with a child interested in Lincoln or whenever you need a break from the election season. As Lincoln would say “Three cheers and Ballyhoo!’

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