Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Young Abe Lincoln: The Frontier Days, 1809-1837

Young Abe Lincoln: The Frontier Days, 1809-1837

Cheryl Harness
Nonfiction Picture Book
For ages 7 to 10
National Geographic, 2003   ISBN: 978-0792269045

It was a hard childhood, one in which going to school was a luxury. Luckily for Abraham Lincoln and his sister Sarah their mother was very eager that her children should "larn readin’, writin’ and cipherin’." But school time was only possible when the children could be spared from their chores on the family farm and later, when they moved to Indiana, there was no school to go to. During these times Abe did his best to learn what he could from others and to practice what he already knew.

Abe was lucky in that both his mother, and later his stepmother, did all they could to encourage and support Abe’s efforts to get an education. It was as if they knew that their boy was not meant to spend his life working the land, that there was more for him to do out there in the wide world.

Soon after turning twenty-one Abe set off on his own to do just this - to see the world and to find his own path. Always he learned, he read books, and he studied. This is a side of Abraham Lincoln’s personality which Cheryl Harness captures very well in this book. She finds Lincoln’s quiet personality, his determination, and his love of the written word. She also reveals his courage and self-possession. Lincoln may have been afraid at times when he faced new challenges and adventures, but he did not turn away from them.

With lots of annotated and illustrated maps and her wonderful colourful paintings Cheryl Harness takes us to frontier life in the woods, to a river raft floating down the Mississippi, and to all the many places that Abraham Lincoln went to in his formative years.