Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

Parents' Choice Awards : Books : Non-Fiction
Vinnie and Abraham

Vinnie and Abraham

Spring 2007 Non-Fiction
Ages: 6 - 10 yrs.
Author: Dawn FitzGerald
Illustrator: Catherine Stock
Publisher: Charlesbridge
ISBN: 978-1-57091-658-8
Hardcover Price: $15.95
There's no shortage of children's material about Abe Lincoln, but this new non-fiction picture book by Dawn Fitzgerald is a notable deviation from the standard Lincoln biography. Here, the focus is primarily on Vinnie Ream, a gifted young sculptor who defied society's objections against her age and gender in order to create a lasting tribute to our sixteenth president. Ream identified with Lincoln's self-taught background and was moved by his “brave, sad face,” wanting to capture his humanity in marble. Lincoln, meanwhile, burdened by the Civil War and feeling himself too homely to be worthy of a statue, was reluctant. But Ream's determination won him over, as did her humble origins. Thought Lincoln: “'Poor? Self-taught? Raised in a log cabin? Such a person is not unfamiliar to me.'” As a mere teenager, Ream was given a regular appointment with the president, five days a week for a half hour until the sculpture was complete. Despite this coup, Ream's struggle for artistic recognition remained an uphill battle for some time. Fitzgerald's text brings this remarkable story to life in easy-to-follow language, touching on women's rights, war, and other issues of the nineteenth century. Catherine Stock's lovely watercolors highlight the characters and their story, but what is most fascinating are the actual photos of young Ream and her Lincoln sculptures (one of which is still housed in the United States Capitol Rotunda).
Zarina Mullan Plath   ©2007 Parents' Choice
Zarina Mullan Plath has undergraduate degrees in both biology and English. Her interests include cookbooks/culinary history, South Asian literature (especially in regards to South Asians in America), and, of course, children's literature. Her poetry is included in the anthology Sweeping Beauty (U. of Iowa Press, 2005). Zarina lives in Central Illinois with her husband, two children, and assorted pets.

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