New York: Roaring Books Press, 2014
Better late than never! November’s non-fiction book is fashionably late, but since it is a series, perhaps it is worth the wait. He Has Shot the President is the fifth book in Don Brown’s Actual Times series, and he, once again, uses the best combination of narrative story-telling, factual information, and expressive illustrations.
The book opens by setting the stage with a few paragraphs of back story on President Abraham Lincoln, John Wilkes Booth, and the Civil War, then moves on to a precise chonology of each man’s April 14th. We learn about Booth’s original plan to kidnap the President and how it turns into a plan for murder. As the story alternates between Lincoln’s and Booth’s activities, we see how each detail of the assassination falls into place, and how each mistake leads to the capture of Booth and his gang of conspirators.
As Lincoln lays dying and Booth makes his get away, we follow the missions of the conspirators and their varying degrees of success. Brown follows each to his or her end and, along the way, we learn lesser known facts about what really happened on April 14, 1865 and the following days.
With his gift for portraying emotion in his illustrations, Brown shows the feel of each moment in the story using watercolor and ink. John Wilkes Booth looks a bit unhinged, and even the horses look sad after Lincoln dies.
He Has Shot the President and other titles in the Actual Times series are a worth-while addition to an elementary or middle school library. With an objective voice and accurate, detailed facts, they are spot-on informational texts for upper elementary. Plus, they are fun reading!
Other titles in the Action Times series include: Let it Begin Here! April 19, 1775: The Day the American Revolution Began; All Stations! Distress! April 15, 1912: The Day the Titanic Sank; Gold! Gold from the American River! January 24, 1848: The Day the Gold Rush Began; and America is Under Attack: September 11, 2001: The Day the Towers Fell; all by Don Brown.
Idaho Core Standards: Reading Standards for Inforamational Text:
Grade 3, Standards 1-5, 7-9; Grade 4, Standards 1-7, 9; Grade 5, Standards 1-6, 9; Grade 6, Standards 1-7, 9; and Grade 7, Standards 1-5, 7-9.
Dewey: 973.7 Interest Level: Grades 3-7
Awards and Reviews: Booklist; Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books; Horn Book Guide starred; Kirkus Reviews; Library Media Connection; Publishers Weekly starred; School Library Journal.
Older readers might like: Chasing Lincoln’s Killer by James L. Swanson.
Fiction Pairing: An Acquaintance with Darkness by Ann Rinaldi.
Film: Abramson, Jody, et al. & Kunhhyardt, P.W. and Edgar, J.A. (1992). Lincoln. United States: PBS.
On the Web:
Learn more about Abraham Lincoln, the Civil War, and Reconstruction at the Library of Congress’s American History digital collection of primary source documents and artifacts.