In a world filled with political turmoil that is hard for adults to navigate, children will find themselves even more confused. No, they don’t follow issues like we do, nor do they vote, and they probably don’t even care or know enough to care-but some day, they will. If all they see of the world of “politics” (using the word loosely) is anger, fear, or frustration, those are the feelings they will harbor as they grow up to become our future. Written by Lane Smith, “Abe Lincoln’s Dream” is the perfect read to give a (refreshingly) positive outlook on the past, present, and future of America.
In various years past, as the book begins, not even the dogs of the residing presidents would enter the room oh the White House Abe Lincoln’s ghost was thought to haunt.
Nobody was really quite certain that his ghost even existed, but everybody steered clear of the rumored room anyways-everybody, that is, until a particular day when a class was getting a tour of the White House.
Our protagonist is a young African-American girl named Quincy, who wanders away from the tour. She passes a room and spots a man with long legs, dressed in black from head to toe. Maybe she would have been scared, but he had such a sad, long, face that she felt sorry for him instead.
She asks if he’s alright, before proceeding to wander with Abe’s ghost through the White House. Eventually, we find out that Abe has not left what he refers to as the “Executive Mansion” since 1865.
Quincy, informing him that it’s now just called the White House, simply tells him he should…a lot has changed since 1865. As the ghost does the flying, Quincy answers his questions that go along the lines of “Are the states united? How did that work out?” and “And equality for all?” Her answers are simple-“Oh yes, that worked out fine” or “that’s working out too-getting better every day.”
When the tour is done, Abe returns her to her room. That night, Quincy has a dream-she sees Abe on a boat, sailing rapidly into the sunset. He is smiling.
The illustrations are art-art that enriches that the story and set’s the whole thing aglow, despite the pictures being somewhat muted in color. Lane Smith’s work is finely detailed in all the right places, and simple in others. They are, in short, perfect for the story. They may not fit every children’s book, but for this one, they are wonderful.
With the election this year, there’s a great fuss being made over presidents and the things they address. “Abe Lincoln’s Dream” presents a more light-hearted view of America to younger readers that will, in a way suitable to their age, shed some light on our country, what it’s been through, what it’s going through, and the changes we hope it will go through at some point.
Note that the protagonist is an African-American girl-this is hugely positive, and balance’s out the story and its message beautifully.
The Man With Long Legs
As summed up in the back of the book, it is true that Abe Lincoln was indeed haunted by a recurring dream-one that had occurred to him a few times before a major event. On the morning of his assassination, President Lincoln told his cabinet members that he had dreamed of seeing himself “In an indescribable vessel moving rapidly towards an indistinct shore.”
A fun fact (also in the back of the book) is about one of the dogs shown in the beginning of the book- Ronald Regan’s dog, Rex. The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel apparently drove members of the White House crazy with his frenzied barking at the Lincoln Bedroom.
Highly, highly, highly recommended. Beautiful illustrations, beautiful story, just an overall wonderful book. It is intended for young readers, probably those 5 to 8 or 9 years old.