Abe Lincoln Crosses a Creek: A Tall, Thin Tale
By Deborah Hopkinson
Illustrated by John Hendrix
Schwartz & Wade Books
ISBN: 9780375837685
Grades 1-3
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Let me say off the bat that I’m biased. Abe Lincoln holds a special place in my stovepipe, which I have worn for the last few Halloweens impersonating the great man. I even grew up on a Lincoln Avenue. If you know that information, then you know I come to most books about our 16th president with more interest than the average reader. But I’d be lying if I said that “Abe Lincoln Crosses a Creek” is anything less than one of the most creative, well illustrated books about Honest Abe you’re likely to find.

The story, narrated by the author, centers on an event that, by all accounts, actually took place in Lincoln’s youth. The complete title of this book includes this: “(Introducing His Forgotten Frontier Friend)”, and with good reason – Benjamin Austin Gollaher is really the hero of this story. On a mission to find partridges, Austin and Abe head down to the fast moving Knob Creek. They run into a problem when the birds they seek are on the other side of the water. In crossing, Abe (the non-swimmer) falls into the water, to be heroically saved by Austin.

Sounds like a simple story, right? Well, the fun is in the details. The narrator breaks rules from the beginning, speaking directly to the reader, talking about the author, and explaining how the story is probably true. The scene where the young Lincoln falls into the water is given a second take when the narrator realizes that maybe the two boys would not have walked, but crawled over the log bridge. When Austin makes it over, the author suggests, “Let’s all clap together”. These elements help to draw in the reader and make the story interactive. A solid Lincoln read aloud? No question.

Then there are the illustrations. Watercolor greens, browns and blues dominate the book, adding life to the detailed pen and ink lines. There are creative flourishes, like the illustrator’s use of different fonts for sound effects, the use of arrows and signs, and the occasional illustration of his hand drawing the illustrations that give the artwork a personal quality. It looks like Mr. Hendrix was having fun, and that rubs off.

Although my above average interest in the subject matter is known, “Abe Lincoln Crosses a Creek” succeeds no matter how you look at it. Be sure to add this one to your collection. Although I’m still not sure I can make this endorsement – did I mention that I also have worked at an elementary school named Lincoln?

Find this book at your local library with WorldCat.

Panoramic shot of the cover:


“Abe Lincoln Crosses a Creek” Wikipedia entry.