Just in Time, Abraham Lincoln

Overview

Michael and Derek don't expect the adventure of a lifetime visiting a Civil War museum with their grandmother. But the mysterious museum keeper invites them to play a game, and before they know it, they're walking through a door straight into a very realistic depiction of 1863. They see the destruction at the battlefield of Antietam, and even meet President Lincoln. Soon, they start to wonder if it's really a game, after all-and suddenly they're racing across ...
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Overview

Michael and Derek don't expect the adventure of a lifetime visiting a Civil War museum with their grandmother. But the mysterious museum keeper invites them to play a game, and before they know it, they're walking through a door straight into a very realistic depiction of 1863. They see the destruction at the battlefield of Antietam, and even meet President Lincoln. Soon, they start to wonder if it's really a game, after all-and suddenly they're racing across Confederate-occupied land to return to their own time before it's too late.

Patricia Polacco's time-travel premise is fascinating- who knew that history museums could literally be doorways into the past? She makes history exciting for young readers, drawing them into a pivotal part of our nation's development.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In Polacco's (January's Sparrow) third book touching on Civil War history, two contemporary boys and their grandmother visit a museum. There, Michael exclaims that it "must have been cool to fight in that war!" and Derek recalls playing a video game about the battle of Gettysburg, prompting the museum's Civil War expert to invite them to don Union uniforms and play a "real game." The boys are transported to 1862 Antietam, and accompany one of Mathew Brady's photographers to the site of the recently fought, critical battle. In chilling, wordless spreads portraying the bloodied, corpse-filled battlefield, Polacco frankly communicates that war is anything but "cool." Reinforcing that message, an anguished Lincoln appears to lament the battle's toll: "Twenty-three thousand men dead or wounded.... My heart breaks that I ordered these lads to their death." Back in the present, the boys' grandmother tells them that what they witnessed was a reenactment, but a Civil War photograph that shows the brothers with Lincoln leaves readers to draw their own conclusions. Polacco's fluid, emotion-charged images deliver her sobering lesson about war's inhumanity with her signature potency. Ages 7–9. (Jan.)
School Library Journal
Gr 4–6—Is it a game, or is it real? Michael and Derek casually take a lighthearted step through a Harper's Ferry museum door into the year 1862 and experience the horrors of war at the battlefield of Antietam only days after the fighting. Dressed as Union soldiers and equipped with only a pocket watch to remind them of their obligation to return to the present, the two boys are called to assist Matthew Brady's photographer, Alexander Gardner, in the field. As they gradually become convinced of their actual insertion into history, a carriage ride with President Lincoln takes them to a pasture of broken stalks and scenes of death expanding page by page to greater destruction at a battleground later called "The Cornfield." Polacco's third visit to the Civil War era provides a full-page visual encapsulation of the battlefield and its physical and emotional devastation through a somber palette in her pencil/marker drawings and the changing expressions on faces of the boys. The book also provides an opportunity to see the perspective of Lincoln from the battlefield only a short time before he issues the Emancipation Proclamation; time is telescoped in the book as the boys are perfectly placed to offer assurances of America's future greatness to the despairing leader and see firsthand the tragedy and effects of the battle. A thoughtful tribute and addition to picture-book historical fiction for older children.—Mary Elam, Learning Media Services, Plano ISD, TX
Kirkus Reviews

The creator ofJanuary's Sparrow(2009) andPink and Say(1994) sends two modern lads back to the Civil War for an encounter with President Lincoln and a shocked gander at an Antietam battlefield. Forced to leave their beloved electronic games behind, Derek and Michael aren't expecting much from their tour of a private Harper's Ferry museum—but when the owner dresses them in blue uniforms and passes them through a certain door they find themselves in 1862, standing next to Matthew Brady's wagon and about to experience war's aftermath firsthand. Climaxed by two wordless spreads of fields covered with twisted, bloodstained victims, the illustrations convey the boys' emotional shifts from boredom to astonishment, excitement to horror. They meet and talk with the sad, weary Lincoln, witness the taking of some renowned photos, stand rooted above broad and terrible killing fields and then survive a Confederate ambush on the way back to town and their own era. Rounded off with an afterword noting where some historical details have been telescoped, the episode will take a strong grip on readers' hearts and minds both.(Picture book. 9-12)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780399254710
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 1/6/2011
  • Pages: 48
  • Sales rank: 480,434
  • Age range: 7 - 9 Years
  • Lexile: 570L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 8.40 (w) x 11.10 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Patricia Polacco
Patricia Polacco is the prolific author and illustrator of over fifty picture books, and is also an energetic and enthusiastic public speaker-she visits over 100 classrooms every year.
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