Review: Looking at Lincoln by Maira Kalman

looking at lincoln

Looking at Lincoln by Maira Kalman

Take a fresh and radiant look at our 16th president, Abraham Lincoln in this new picture book.  A young girl is motivated to find out more about President Lincoln after spotting someone in the park who reminded her of him.  She discovers many interesting facts, some of them well known like him being born in a small log cabin and other more obscure like his love of vanilla cake.  This is a personal look at a president, allowing us to see what his road to greatness was and how it ended in tragedy. 

Kalman takes a very modern look at history here.  A large part of its modern feel is the art in the book which is bright and blazing.  She uses color with abandon, with pinks, yellows, reds and greens adding color to simple illustrations.  Her paintings range from individual objects of importance to entire scenes from history.  The diversity of the images also adds a sense of playfulness to the work that is welcome.

Her writing carries through that same light touch, making the facts all the more interesting.  As she tells the story of Lincoln’s life, she is also telling the sad story of slavery and Civil War.  Somehow her illustrations and the tone she employs here keeps the book moving and never lets it bog down into too many words. 

A colorful, fascinating look at the life of our 16th President.  This book is appropriate for ages 7-9.

Reviewed from copy received from Nancy Paulsen Books.