Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address

Lincolns Gettysburg AddressLincoln’s Gettysburg Address. Written by Abraham Lincoln. Illustrated by James Daugherty. New introduction by Gabor S. Borritt. Albert Whitman & Company, 2013 (originally published in 1947). 48 pages. Publisher recommends for ages 6 to 18. ISBN: 9780807545508.

This larger than life book was originally published in 1947. It’s been re-released in this 150th anniversary year of the Gettysburg Address. The original book included a forward by James Daugherty, the Gettysburg Address written on a single page, and then 15 two-page spreads. Each spread includes a phrase from the Gettysburg Address as well as a painting that resembles a WPA mural. The new book includes these elements plus an afterword by Gabor Boritt, an emeritus professor of civil war studies at Gettysburg College and Daugherty’s notes on each of his paintings.

The words themselves are, of course, remarkable. They are part of our heritage. The paintings, with their deep, rich, colors are awe-inspiring. I have spent at least an hour looking at them. Each time I go back to a spread, I see things I missed on previous viewings. And I still wonder about what’s included in some of the spreads, even after reading Daugherty’s comments. I can imagine two or three children gathered around a copy of this book trying to puzzle out what’s meant by elements of the paintings.

The paintings are a product of their time. They reference the first and second world wars as well as the Civil War. I am disappointed that the people in the paintings are overwhelmingly white. On the spread where the words “and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal” not one single nonwhite person is included in the painting. On the last spread, where the words “and that government of the people by the people for the people shall not perish from the earth,” there are several blacks and even one Asian-looking man. These spreads could be used to discuss how far we’ve come in thinking about race and diversity since 1947.

For all their drawbacks, the paintings are amazing and make the book well worth having in a library, a classroom or a personal collection.

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Serendipitous Discovery Leads to Timely Reissue at Albert Whitman by Claire Kirch. Publisher’s Weekly, January 10, 2013.


Heart on Fire: Susan B. Anthony Votes for President

Heart on FireHeart on Fire: Susan B. Anthony Votes for President. Written by Ann Malaspina. IIlustrated by Steve James. Albert Whitman & Company, 2012. 32 pages. Publisher recommends for ages 6-9. ISBN: 9780807531884.

Susan B. Anthony thought that the 14th Amendment, ratified in 1868, gave her and every other woman who was a citizen of the United States the right to vote. She registered to vote in 1872 and four days later she voted for president of the United States. Two weeks after that she was arrested for “voting without having the lawful right to vote.” All of her female friends who voted were also arrested. She was tried, convicted, and fined $100 which she refused to pay.

This story is much more accessible than a biography of Susan B. Anthony would be. It captures her outrage at not being able to vote. Like a refrain in a song, the writer uses the words “Outrageous. Unbelievable. True.” The words appear throughout the story.

There’s a nice history of Susan B. Anthony’s struggle to win the right to vote at the end of the book. It points out that she died in 1906 and the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote, was ratified in 1920. There’s also a selected bibliography. On the last page there is a photograph of Susan B. Anthony.

The deeply colored illustrations focus primarily on the upper torso and heads of their subjects. This gives the reader a chance to see the character faces up close, and thus to see a bit of the feelings and motivations expressed in their faces.

Heart on Fire could be used anytime by a child interested in writing a report about Susan B. Anthony. It would also be a great read aloud choice both for election season and for women’s history month.

Before reading this book I knew that Susan B. Anthony worked tirelessly to win American women the right to vote. I did not realize that she had, in effect, committed civil disobedience by testing her right to vote. My admiration of her and my gratitude to her have increased by reading Heart of Fire.

This week Nonfiction Monday is being hosted by Wrapped in Foil

Nonfiction Monday

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