Abraham Lincoln has been one of my heroes all my life. I was very young when I first heard that he loved to read, often by the light from the fireplace. Those kinds of details and childhood impressions stick with you! Over the years, I’ve read many different books on Lincoln, including Carl Sandburg’s Abraham Lincoln, a 3-volume biography, which I read probably 45 years ago. Doris Kearns Goodwin’s Team of Rivals is sitting on my TBR shelf waiting for me.
So when I saw the cover of this beautiful little book at the library, there wasn’t a moment’s hesitation. It’s a quick read, beautifully written, and it captures the kindness and greatness of the man. Lincoln and His Sons, by Rosemary Wells, is written from the point of view of Willie, and then of Tad Lincoln, between the years of 1859 and 1865. It’s a refreshing view of an historical time period, but it is mostly a glimpse into the private life of a great man, through the eyes of his adored and adoring boys.
Rosemary Wells has done a sensitive job of capturing emotional truths in his little book. It ends before Lincoln’s assassination, but not before tragedy and loss within this family. They had already lost a son before the story begins, but then they lose Willie, both boys to childhood illnesses — “fever.”
The language of the book is from the time period and adds an authenticity to these well-researched stories.
At last he says, “There are a hundred reasons why things happen, Willie. Those reasons fan out like circles around a stone thrown into a pond. The stone in the center of those reason rings is called truth. Truth is the very hardest thing on earth to see clear.”
“What is the truth?” I ask him.
Father smiles that big grin that changes his whole face, and his eyes come back to me. “Next year I will skunk Senator Douglas!”
It’s a book worth reading for adults as well as children, and would be a nice addition to a classroom library, grades 4-8.