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When Abraham Talked to the Trees
PAPERBACK; Published: 9/7/2000
ISBN: 978-0-8028-5233-5
32 Pages
Trim Size, in inches: 8.5 x 11

Ages 6-11
Full-color Illustrations Throughout
Lexile: 670L

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When Abraham Lincoln's ma died, she left him a book and the wish to read it every day. The words were hard to figure sometimes, but he tried again and again when chores were finished and the quiet had come.

Abraham Lincoln's love for words--the reading, writing, and speaking of them--began when he was young. Though his early years were filled with hardship and loss, he had a hunger for learning and persisted in his determination to develop the skills he would need later in his life.

When Abraham Talked to the Trees offers young readers an inspiring glimpse of a historical giant who at their own age had to struggle against the odds to learn the skills that they, too, are working to develop. Author Elizabeth Van Steenwyk's anecdotal story reveals the character of the boy who grew up to be an American president known for his brilliance, wit, and humanity; while Bill Farnsworth's warm oil paintings beautifully capture the time, place, and circumstances of young Abraham's life.

ForeWord Magazine Book of the Year Awards, Finalist, Children's Picture Book (2000)
Kentucky Reading Association, Kentucky Bluegrass Award Master List
Land of Enchantment, Master List
"When American schoolchildren think of Abraham Lincoln, they often envision him as a young boy reading by a fire. This picture-book biography, which actually contains this very image, serves its audience well by extending the cliché into something more authentic. Van Steenwyk focuses on the kinds of books Lincoln probably read, most notably the Bible and Webster's dictionary, and how he benefited from what he learned. She reveals his love for storytelling, and she describes him standing in the woods, practicing orations, with family and friends gathered around listening to sermons they had already heard, word for word. The warm oil paintings, bathed in light, set the mood for this simple, anecdotal text, which is filled with gentle humor. They show Lincoln at various stages of his youth, working in fields, felling trees, scratching words in the snow, and, of course, reading."
Parade Magazine
"A Lincoln book that is gentler and more imaginative than most is When Abraham Talked to the Trees by Elizabeth Van Steenwyk. The author depicts young Abe, after his mother dies and his new stepmother arrives, wandering off into the woods to recite aloud to himself words he had read and heard earlier that day. And with Nature his only audience, he becomes a practiced orator. Maybe it didn't quite happen that way, but if not, it's a pleasant fable. Full-page paintings by Bill Farnsworth provide a warmly rustic ambiance."
Publishers Weekly
"An amiable portrait of a young Abraham Lincoln as an aspiring scholar and orator. . . . The oil paintings effectively convey the tale's rustic period setting, while emitting an agreeable romanticism."