F My Best Friend, Abe Lincoln by Robert L Bloch Review ~ Critique of the Unique

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Wednesday, July 6, 2011

My Best Friend, Abe Lincoln by Robert L Bloch Review

Product: My Best Friend, Abe Lincoln - A Tale of Two Boys from Indiana
Author: Robert L. Bloch
Illustrations: John W. Ewing
Publisher: Castlebridge/ Big Tent Books
Category: Books, Children
Price: $13.95

Story Summary:

In 1820, Sam Harding and Abe Lincoln forged a strong friendship, based on their love of learning and of the outdoors. This timeless story is about the special bond between two boys, the experiences they shared growing up in early America, and how one of the boys eventually became the sixteenth President of the United States.

My Best Friend, Abe Lincoln - A Tale of Two Boys From Indiana is a wonderful story written by Robert Bloch geared toward readers aged 5-8 years old! This book is about the budding friendship of two boys... Sam Harding (a fictional character) and young Abe Lincoln. It takes the reader on a historical journey through Abe's childhood on upward into adulthood where Abe eventually earns the title of President of the United States. The pages are full of amazing artwork thanks to the talented illustrations of John Ewing, who has previously worked with Disney animation in such works as "Winnie the Pooh" and "Sleeping Beauty".

What I loved about this book is that it inspires a love for history! Although the book is fictional, the plot interweaves fact and fiction so delicately that it allows for the reader to learn interesting facts about our sixteenth president in a way that is not too preachy, but more of an insider's view of the type of life Abe Lincoln might have had up until his presidential election.  It touches lightly on political issues of the time such as poverty and slavery, giving children a glimpse into what life would have been like during such trying times. The suggested age range is appropriate in both reading level and interest and I would even recommend it to earlier readers if you want to read it aloud to your child, as there are enough interesting and entertaining illustrations that a younger child can easily associate the pictures with the spoken words.

If you are looking for a book about Abraham Lincoln based solely on fact, then this is not the book you are looking for, but if your goal is to make your child more interested in learning about history and you want a story that will start their natural curiosity, then this book will definitely be on your "must read" list!

Author Questions and Answers:
Describe the specific event that occurred which inspired you to write  the book.
I was in an antique shop a few years ago and had a fun, “Walter mitty” type experience. I imagined I found the missing diary written by the childhood best friend of my hero, abe lincoln. then I saw it in my mind as a fun children’s book.

Why did you decide to write the book through the eyes of a best friend?
I know from raising my own kids that children enjoy hearing stories about other children. they naturally relate better to the characters in books in this way. I also wanted to tell a story about a close and personal relationship between two boys who had a lot of fun together, and one grew up to become famous.

How did your research into the times and life of lincoln influence the adventures you chose to write about in the book?
History books have relatively little personal information on  lincoln’s childhood years. I built the story around the few facts I did find—lincoln family history, pioneer farm, knowledge that abe worked hard and went to school, small descriptionsof his personality and physical appearance to name a few.
then I researched the pioneer era in the little Pigeon Creek region—log cabins, one-room schoolhouses, fishing creeks, caves, bats, Indians, and slavery. I tied it all together in the form of a fictional tale geared to four through eight year-old readers.

How were you personally influenced by President lincoln as a child, and how did that carry over into your adult life?
My parents took our family on a trip to Washington, DC when we were old enough to appreciate the fact that our great-great grandfather knew Lincoln. He had also been a guest in their home. 
I was extremely impressed with the imposing and powerful lincoln memorial. (It also didn’t hurt that 
he was on the $5 bill and the penny.) The older I got the more I wanted to learn as much as I could 
about this great leader. I am impressed that he stood up for his high principles that changed America forever!

What advice would you give to parents about how to help their children form values of hard work, honesty, humility, and building good relationships?
Reading biographies is a great way to learn how to live one’s life. Lincoln sets great examples 
because he always learned from his difficult experiences and mistakes in life. this made him a very 
powerful and wise leader. more important than anything, true wisdom is attained by learning from 
our mistakes.

What will be the focus of future books you are planning?
I intend to create a series of “My Best Friend” children’s books. Kids are inspired by all types of 
people who can enrich their lives. the series will include famous artists, explorers, political leaders, 
famous women, scientists, and athletes

About the Author:

Robert Bloch has worked at the H&R Block Foundation since 1989. He lives in Mission Hills, Kansas, and has four sons and a wonderful wife. Bob graduated from Menlo College in Menlo Park, California, (1974) and the University of Missouri at Kansas City (1979). His passions are Art History and American History.

Bob's great-great-grandfather, Jonas Wollman, was one of fifty-two Leavenworth merchants and businessmen who signed a letter written by Mark Delahay requesting that Abraham Lincoln visit Leavenworth, Kansas. Lincoln obliged by traveling there to give his first campaign speech in December, 1859.

About the Illustrator: 
John Ewing attended Chouinard Art School in Los Angeles before joining the team at Walt Disney Studios in Burbank. In his eleven years there, he worked on many projects, including Winnie the Pooh and The Jungle Book. In addition to John's illustration work with Dragonpencil, he is also an art professor and an avid flight enthusiast.

Work can be seen at www.Dragonpencil.com.

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