Uh-oh, it looks like your Internet Explorer is out of date.

For a better shopping experience, please upgrade now.

My Brother Abe: Sally Lincoln's Story
  • Alternative view 1 of My Brother Abe: Sally Lincoln's Story
  • Alternative view 2 of My Brother Abe: Sally Lincoln's Story

My Brother Abe: Sally Lincoln's Story

5.0 3
by Harry Mazer

See All Formats & Editions

What was it like to be the sister of the boy who would grow up to become president of the United States?

Sally Lincoln's voice has never before been heard. Now she tells her own story of an unsettling time for the Lincoln family, which changed and influenced both children forever.

Forced to leave their home in Kentucky, the family begins anew in Indiana


What was it like to be the sister of the boy who would grow up to become president of the United States?

Sally Lincoln's voice has never before been heard. Now she tells her own story of an unsettling time for the Lincoln family, which changed and influenced both children forever.

Forced to leave their home in Kentucky, the family begins anew in Indiana territory, only later to be devastated by the death of Nancy Hanks, Sally and Abe's adored mother. When their demanding father journeys back to Kentucky to find a new wife, leaving eleven-year-old Sally in charge of nine-year-old Abe, the children have to face the hardships of the frontier alone.

In a novel full of the power of adventure and the poignancy of family love -- and in time for the bicentennial of Abraham Lincoln's birth -- Mazer gives voice to a girl who helped shape the life of one of this country's greatest presidents.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Drawing on a limber imagination and knack for storytelling, Mazer (Boy at War; Heroes Don't Run) turns a few facts from Abraham Lincoln's childhood into a vivid historical novel. The title notwithstanding, the future president does not occupy center stage-Abe's older sister, Sally, about whom little is known, serves as the personable narrator and protagonist. Mazer conjures her as tomboyish and outspoken, a bit like Laura Ingalls but saddled with an authoritarian, fault-finding father. The dramas of frontier life quickly prove absorbing: shortly after the book opens, a land dispute forces the Lincolns to leave their Kentucky farm, and they settle in more isolated, primitive quarters in Indiana. Contemporary readers will easily relate to Sally, who can't understand why her patient, religious mother always agrees with "Mr. Lincoln" (as his wife addresses him), and whose grief over her mother's death makes her resent the essentially kind widow her father marries a year later. Fans of historical novels will savor the details evoked here. Ages 8-12. (Jan.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
School Library Journal

Gr 4-7

Mazer has based this story broadly on known facts of the Lincolns' childhood. Crossing the Ohio River into what would become Indiana after being forced off their land in Kentucky, living in a half-faced shelter over one winter, and losing their mother become immediate and poignant when seen through Sally's eyes. While her brother is quick to accept their new stepmother, Sally is not so easily won over, and her feelings and fear of betraying her mother's memory are understandable. Abraham's difficulties with his father, his reluctance to kill animals, the hard work of homesteading, and his longing for education are depicted. Through such vivid details, Mazer offers an engaging and believable tale of survival.-Janet S. Thompson, Chicago Public Library

Kirkus Reviews
Well timed to catch the wave of interest that's likely to rise for the bicentennial of Lincoln's birth, this historical tale zeroes in on the personalities of ten-year-old Abe, his mother Nancy and his father Thomas-all as seen through the eyes of his sister Sally, two years his senior. Sally takes center stage as, struggling to find accommodation between her intelligent, headstrong nature and her desire to be as disciplined, loving and industrious as her beloved mother, she recounts her family's hard trek from Kentucky to the Indiana wilderness, the devastating death of her mother and her slow acceptance of the kindly widow who becomes her stepmother. Mazer is a little hazy on the exact nature of women's work in this place and time, but he sticks to the (skimpy) historical record for people and events, provides some searching insight into young Abe's character and endows Sally with a strong, distinctive narrative voice. (Historical fiction. 10-12)
From the Publisher
"Mazer has succesfully imagined a story of the Lincoln children's childhood told from Sally's point of view...this is solid historical fiction, offering a unique and likeable protagonist and a believable recounting of historical events."—The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

"Sally...is a smart, strong, and sassy characters, and...it is most succesful as a congenial story of a heastrong young lady's life in the wilderness of early nineteenth-century America."—Kirkus Reviews

"Through such vivid details, Mazer offers an engaging and believable tale of survival."—School Library Journal

"The dramas of frontier life quickly prove absorbing...Contemporary readers will easily relate to Sally...Fans of historical novels will savor the details evoked here."—Publishers Weekly

Product Details

Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
Publication date:
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.18(w) x 7.68(h) x 0.56(d)
700L (what's this?)
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

Read an Excerpt

My Little Brother and Me

When he was three years old and I was five, I learned my little brother his letters, the same letters I had learned from my aunt Betsy. I was taking care of him, while Mama was busy. I showed him the letters in the Bible. “Look here, Abe,” I said. “This is an A. This is a B. This is a C. Now you point like I did.”

He did it. He pointed to the letters. I didn’t have to tell him but once. “Now you’re going to make them letters,” I said. I was still a little girl and not speaking perfectly. “Come on outside with me,” I said. There was nothing to write with, so I made the letters in the air. That puzzled Abe some, and he ran off and found some twigs and gave them to me to make the letters on the ground. “Ain’t you smart,” I said admiringly.

Three little twigs made the letter A. I did it, then he did it. Made it perfect the first time. The letter B was harder to make with twigs, so I scratched it in the dirt where the chickens had picked the ground clean. It took him a while to make that B, but he was a dogged little squirt. He wouldn’t give up for nothing. Then we worked on C, and we kept on going, right up the alphabet.

It was funny to watch Abe make the letters, him kneeling on the ground, his butt end up in the air. He’d scratch out a letter with a twig, then talk to it. “D?” he said, creaking it out like an old man who couldn’t hear so good. “You there, you there? E, E, where is E?” He loved his letters. “See C,” he said and laughed at his own joke. S was a snake, he said, and T was a tree. Z gave him some trouble. He kept making it backward. He’d rub it out and do it again, and rub it out and do it again, till he got it right. I learned him to spell his name, too.

Next year, when I was six, Pa signed me up for Mr. Riney’s subscription school. Abe was wild to go too. “I’ll go with Sally. I will. I will go with my sister,” he said, and he wouldn’t stop saying it, not even when Pa said, dang it, he didn’t have the money. “I will go,” Abe said in his little voice. “I will.”

Finally, Pa asked the schoolmaster to visit, and Mama and me showed off Abe, showed how he knew his letters and lots more, too. He could already read everything near as good as me. “He can come along with his sister, then,” the schoolmaster said. “And I won’t charge you extra, Mr. Lincoln, the boy being so young.”

I was pleased to have my little brother’s company going to school. Pa was pleased to save money. And Mama was pleased that Abe and me were going to get schooling. Mama could read and write. She had come from a fine family, and she wanted us to be educated.

We started school, and every day Abe ran ahead of me all the way on his little legs. It was three miles to the school that sat at the Long Branch crossroads. Abe was the youngest in the school, but he could read and do his letters better than most. I was puffed up over him, proud as a pigeon, which was a sin of pride, but I couldn’t help it.

By the time Abe was six, folks were stopping by the house to see the “little wonder”—the child, they said, who could read and write like an angel. They would come with paper for him to write letters for them to family back home in Virginia. Never having had no schooling, most of these people couldn’t read what Abe wrote and most signed their names with marks. Pa was a farmer and a carpenter, he could make anything you wanted, and he could sign his name himself, too. He’d stick out his tongue, bite down on it, and slowly make the letters to write Thomas Lincoln.

Pa’s Knob Creek farm was at the edge of the road. People walked by all times of the day, and the night, too. Carriages and wagons and drovers went past both ways, and sometimes when the long mule trains came through at night, Pa said it was criminal folks, smugglers. I shivered to hear that, but glad that we were all inside and safe.

In case I forgot to tell you, my name is Sarah Lincoln, but anyone who knows me calls me Sally. I was born on February 10, 1807 in Elizabethtown, Kentucky. My brother was born exactly two years and two days after me at Sinking Spring, Pa’s first farm. I don’t remember a whole lot about either of those places.

After Abe, when we were living in Knob Creek, Mama had another boy baby. At that time, I was five and Abe was three. That’s along about the same time I was teaching him his letters. Mama named the new baby Thomas after Pa. Thomas was a fretful little thing. He died when he was six months old. We buried him right there at Knob Creek. On Sundays, Mama went to his grave and I went with her. Mama had a fine singing voice, and each time she’d sing to my littlest baby brother. “Hush, little baby, don’t you cry….” Made me want to cry. I didn’t, though, not much, anyway. Mama always said that we Lincoln women were strong and we didn’t let death nor nothing scorch our eyes.

Did I tell that Abe got his name from Pa’s pa, the first Abraham Lincoln? And that I got mine from Mama’s cousin Sarah Mitchell? Mama loved her like a sister, and if I asked, she would tell me Sarah Mitchell’s story. Something else that made me want to cry. When Sarah Mitchell was nine, she saw her mama cut down by an Indian. Her pa was standing by her mama’s body and attempting to hold off the attackers with a rifle he was using like a club. Sarah and her brother were hiding in the bushes, but they were discovered and ran for their lives.

Whenever Mama got to this part of Sarah Mitchell’s story, I would get all fearful and trembling. Sarah and her brother ran till they came to a log fallen across a river. Sarah’s brother scrambled his way across the log to the other shore and called to her to follow, but she was scared of the water. She hesitated, and the Indians came upon her and took her away.

They held her captive for six years and then they freed her in a prisoner exchange. After that, she went to live with Aunt Betsy and Mama. “And what was that like for Sarah, being with the Indians, Mama?” I would always ask. And Mama would always press her lips together and say, “Sarah vowed they treated her fine, made her part of a family. But I’ll tell you, Sally, it was sweet to see her in our house, and we loved each other. We were like two fingers on the same hand. Sister-cousins people called us. I promised I would name my first girl after her. And so I did.”

“And so you did,” I said, hugging Mama. I couldn’t imagine being anybody but Sally Lincoln. Nor could I imagine living anywhere but Knob Creek. I thought we would never leave it.

© 2009 Harry Mazer

Meet the Author

Harry Mazer is the author of many books for young readers, including Please, Somebody Tell Me Who I Am; My Brother Abe; the Boy at War trilogy; The Wild Kid; The Dog in the Freezer; The Island Keeper; and Snow Bound. His books have won numerous honors, including a Horn Book honor and an American Library Association Best Book for Young Adults citation. Along with his wife, Norma Fox Mazer, Harry received an ALAN award in 2003 for outstanding contribution to adolescent literature. He lives in Montpelier, Vermont.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Post to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews

My Brother Abe: Sally Lincoln's Story 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
No words!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The book was awesome it was sad it was just awesome.I recomend this book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I li ed thi book!!!!!!