Abe's Honest Words: The Life of Abraham Lincoln (Big Words)

by Doreen Rappaport (Author) Kadir Nelson (Illustrator)

Abe's Honest Words: The Life of Abraham Lincoln (Big Words)
Reading Level: 4th – 5th Grade
Series: Big Words
From the time he was a young boy roaming the forests of the unsettled Midwest, Abraham Lincoln knew in his heart that slavery was deeply wrong. A voracious reader, Lincoln spent every spare moment of his days filling his mind with knowledge, from history to literature to mathematics, preparing himself to one day lead the country he loved towards greater equality and prosperity.

Despite the obstacles he faced as a self-educated man from the back woods, Lincoln persevered in his political career, and his compassion and honesty gradually earned him the trust of many Americans. As president, he guided the nation through a long and bitter civil war and penned the document that would lead to the end of slavery in the United States.

The passion for humanity that defined Lincoln's life shines through in this momentous follow-up to Martin's Big Words and John's Secret Dreams. Told in Doreen Rappaport's accessible, absorbing prose, and brought to life in powerful illustrations by Kadir Nelson, Abe's Honest Words is an epic portrait of a truly great American president.

More books in the series - See All

Other series you might like

School Library Journal

Starred Review
Gr 3-6 Written in prose as elegant and spare as that of its subject, this distinguished book takes readers from Abe's backwoods boyhood in Kentucky to his first harrowing witnessing of slavery in New Orleans, on to the Illinois legislature and the presidency. Each half-page of generously spaced text appears against a white background. Rappaport's carefully chosen words are both accessible and effective: "The war dragged on./Lincoln grew sadder and sadder/as more men died." Until, "The South finally surrendered./The job of healing the nation began./But Lincoln was not there to help./An assassin's bullet ended his life." Corresponding quotes from Lincoln appear in italics, e.g., ""The moment came when I felt that slavery must die that the nation might live!"" Handsome, larger-than-life paintings fill the remaining page and a half of each spread with powerful imagesof Abe as a strong, lanky youth with a book or oar in hand, then later as a lawyer with unkempt hair, feather pen, and midnight candles burning. Readers see the somber, resigned faces of slavesyoung and oldfirst in chains, then picking cotton under a blazing sun, and later the proud faces of an all-black regiment of the Union Army. From Lincoln's striking countenance on the coverscruffy dark hair tinged with gray, big ears, bright eyes, and benevolent face, lined with worry and ageto the end, this is one Lincoln book that all libraries will want to have."Barbara Auerbach, New York City Public Schools" Copyright 2008 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

This collaboration between Rappaport and Nelson provides a sweeping arc of Lincoln's life, jumping from his humble beginnings and his early political career through his struggles to preserve the union and to help abolish slavery. Rappaport writes in a very free verse, and on each page echoes her narrative with prescient samplings of Lincoln's words. In the generously sized artwork that fills three quarters of each fold, Nelson makes the familiar face frowning out at us from various currencies exciting again, showing deep furrows and wearied creases, and on the few occasions when Lincoln falls prey to looking like a wooden statue, it is the faces of the people who surrounding him, watching him and judging him, that carry the weight of the artwork's impact. Nelson has the uncanny ability to telegraph a full range of emotion in the faces, especially in the eyes of his subjects, and it is in these details that he displays the true immensity of his talent. Minimally, his work is compelling; at best, it's spellbinding. This exceptional art, along with Rappaport's and Lincoln's words, makes this a fine celebration of a man who needs little introduction. Booklist"

This book was nice

This book was nice But I wish there was information about him not what he did

Doreen Rappaport
Doreen Rappaport has written numerous award-winning books for children, including Freedom Ship and The School Is Not White (both illustrated by Curtis James); Martin's Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a Caldecott Honor Book and Coretta Scott King Honor Book illustrated by Bryan Collier; and John's Secret Dreams: The Life of John Lennon, also illustrated by Bryan Collier.

Bryan Collier's first book, Uptown, published in 2000, received a Coretta Scott King (CSK) Illustrator Award, as well as an Ezra Jack Keats Award. The same year, Freedom River, which he illustrated, received a CSK Illustrator Honor Award. He is the illustrator of Martin's Big Words, for which he received his first Caldecott Honor Award and a CSK Honor Award. He received his second Caldecott Honor Award in 2006, as well as another CSK Award for Rosa, written by Nikki Giovanni. He is also a New York Times bestseller with Barack Obama, written by Nikki Grimes, which reached the #1 spot in picture books during its 20 weeks on the list and received a 2009 NAACP Image Award for Best Children's Book, and has illustrated many other acclaimed, award-winning titles.
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication date
November 20, 2008
Big Words
BISAC categories
JNF007000 - Juvenile Nonfiction | Biography & Autobiography | General
Library of Congress categories
United States
Lincoln, Abraham
Capitol Choices: Noteworthy Books for Children and Teens
Recommended 2009 - 2009
Volunteer State Book Awards
Nominee 2010 - 2011
North Carolina Children's Book Award
Nominee 2010 - 2010
Keystone to Reading Book Award
Winner 2010 - 2010
Monarch Award
Nominee 2011 - 2011

Subscribe to our delicious e-newsletter!