Illustrated by Kadir Nelson; Little Brown for Young Readers

Rappaport’s words, combined with Lincoln’s quotes, illuminate the life and struggles of this great American president.


  • Capital Choices, 100 Best of the Year
  • Chicago Public Library, Best of Best Books
  • Children’s Choice, Intermediate Level, Keystone Reading Book Award
  • CCBC Choices, Best of the Year
  • The Monarch Awards: Illinois’ Children’s Choice Award Masterlist
  • NY Public Library, 100 Titles to Read and Share
  • Teachers’ Choices, IRA
  • Library of Virginia Whitney and Scott Cardoza Award

“In writing biographies for young people, I try to find what I believe is the “essence” or “essences” of a particular person. Lincoln’s eloquent words are a guide into his thoughts and offer children a way into the heart of the man.” Doreen Rappaport


“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.. This exceptional art, along with Rappaport’s and Lincoln’s words, makes this a fine celebration of a man who needs little introduction” Booklist

“With language as lean as our sixteenth president, Rappaport brings to light the major influences on and turning points in Lincoln’s life…Some of Nelson’s handsome portraits glow with background light and luminous skin tones, evoking the remote majesty of the statue at the Lincoln Memorial. At other times, he lets Lincoln walk down those stairs and portrays an unassuming man reading under a tree or cajoling political leaders with a story or two.” The Horn Book

“The things I want to know are in books; my best friend is
the man who’ll git me a book I aint’ read .”

From the Author’s Note

“Reading his speeches, I could feel Lincoln’s great burden as he tried to keep this country together and the torment he must have felt as he struggled to finally make the decision that he had to free black men, women, and children, a decision that threatened the fragile alliance of the border states with the North.”

From the Illustrator’s Note

“The only challenge I found when creating images of Lincoln was showing him from angles that are different from those I found in existing paintings and photographs. I was able to paint his likeness from new perspectives by using a life-size cast of Lincoln’s bust. It enabled me to light the sculpture in any way I wished and draw and paint Lincoln from any angle I needed.”

Click below and hear an oral interview in which Doreen Rappaport shares some of the backstory for creating this book.

The Gettysburg Address, the most quoted speech in American history, was delivered on November 19, 1863.
Performed by Jeff Daniels

Learn More

Big Words Books, Hyperion Teacher’s Guide

Doreen’s Study Guides

Kids Connect

Lincoln Memorial -National Park Service, District of Columbia

Lincoln Memorial Interactive – A virtual walk though the memorial with reflections by park rangers on the memorial and its history.

Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum – Springfield, Illinois

Abraham Lincoln – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia



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