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Abraham Lincoln, Pro Wrestler is the first chapter book in the Time Twisters series from acclaimed author Steve Sheinkin. Also check out Book 2, Abigail Adams, Pirate of the Caribbean!
WARNING: DO NOT BELIEVE THE STORY YOU’RE ABOUT TO READ.
Well, you can believe some of it. There is some real history. But also hijinks. Time travel. And famous figures setting off on adventures that definitely never happenedtill now. Time is getting twisted, and it’s up to two kids to straighten things out.
When Abraham Lincoln overhears a classroom of kids say “history is boring,” he decides to teach them a lesson. Lincoln escapes from 1860to pursue his dream of becoming a professional wrestler! Now siblings Doc and Abby have to convince Lincoln to go back to Springfield, Illinois, and accept the presidency . . . before everything spins out of control!
This title has Common Core connections.
About the Author
Steve Sheinkin is the acclaimed author of fast-paced, cinematic nonfiction histories for young readers, including The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny, and the Fight for Civil Rights; The Notorious Benedict Arnold: A True Story of Adventure, Heroism & Treachery; Bomb: The Race to Build--and Steal--the World's Most Dangerous Weapon; and Most Dangerous: Daniel Ellsberg and the Secret History of the Vietnam War. His accolades include a Newbery Honor, three Boston Globe–Horn Book Awards, a Sibert Medal, and three National Book Award finalist honors. Sheinkin lives in Saratoga Springs, New York, with his wife and two children.
Neil Swaab is a New York City–based illustrator, designer, and author. His work has graced the covers and interiors of numerous books for children including the New York Times bestseller Big Fat Liar by James Patterson and Neil's own series, The Secrets to Ruling School. He has also animated for TV an enjoys teaching at Parsons School of Design.
Read an Excerpt
Ms. Maybee said, "Okay, guys, let's get out our history books!"
The whole class groaned.
Doc tilted his head back and started snoring.
"Very funny," Ms. Maybee said. "This is going to be fun, trust me. Abby? How about if you get us started."
Abby — she's the one who broke history. It was Abby and her stepbrother, Doc.
You can thank them later.
Everyone took out their textbooks. Thick books. Heavy. Kids lifted them high and let them drop onto their desks. It sounded like thunder.
Ms. Maybee just shook her head.
"Page one twenty-five," she said. "Today we'll read about Abraham Lincoln."
More groans. And Doc sang out, "Bor — ing!"
Ms. Maybee glared at the class. "Who said that?"
Everyone knew. But no one said.
"Well, whoever it was," Ms. Maybee said, looking right at Doc, "you should be aware that you are not only rude, but also totally wrong."
She pointed to a poster of Abraham Lincoln taped to the classroom wall.
"Abraham Lincoln is one of our most important presidents," she said. "He basically saved the country and ended slavery. And he's certainly not boring. Come on, you'll see." And she said, "Abby, when you're ready."
Abby opened the textbook to page 125. There was an old black-and-white picture of a house with a horse and wagon driving by. She read what it said at the top of the page: "Lincoln: from Lawyer to President."
"A little louder, Abby," Ms. Maybee said. "We're going to show these people how exciting history can be!"
She read louder: "Abraham Lincoln sat at a large desk in his office in the city of Springfield, Illinois. He was reading a newspaper. After a little while, he put the newspaper down and stood up. He walked out of the room. He came back carrying a cup of coffee. He sat down again. He picked up the newspaper and began to read."
Abby looked up from the book, pretty confused.
"See," Doc said. "Nap time."
For once, Ms. Maybee didn't yell at him. "Okay," she said, "that wasn't the most thrilling part, I'll admit. Doc, since you're so interested, why don't you see what comes next?"
He read aloud: "Abraham Lincoln turned to the next page of the newspaper. He took a sip of coffee. He put his feet up on his desk. He read some more. Every few minutes he sipped his drink."
Doc stopped. "Do I have to keep going?" he asked.
"No, that's fine," Ms. Maybee said.
She looked at her own copy of the textbook. "According to what it says here, he just sat at his desk all day. He read the paper, drank coffee, and, um, that's it. That's all he did."
"Why do we have to know this stuff?" Doc asked.
"It's important," Ms. Maybee said.
"It just is," she said. "Hmmm ..." She was still looking at her book. "This really doesn't seem right. I remember Lincoln doing a lot more. But to be totally honest, history was never my favorite subject."
"Because it's boring!" Doc said.
"Well, this book is a little dry, I'll admit," Ms. Maybee said.
She closed the textbook and said, "Let's do a math worksheet."
And a few kids actually cheered.
When the school day ended, Abby walked through the library to the storage room in the back. It was a small room packed with books — books on shelves, in cardboard boxes, and stacked up on the floor. There were two chairs and a table and one small window.
Abby sat and started taking stuff out of her backpack.
This happened every day. Abby and Doc's mother was a teacher at the school and ran an after-school program for younger kids. Their dad taught at the middle school and stayed late to coach track. So every day, after school, Abby and Doc had to stick around for about an hour, until their mom was ready to leave. They were supposed to sit in this room and do homework or read.
It was usually the longest hour of the day. Not this time.
Doc came in and tossed down his backpack. He stepped onto a chair, then onto the table, and from there he climbed onto one of the stacks of boxes. His head almost touched the ceiling.
He pointed to a tall box about six feet away.
"Probably," Abby said. "But I'm not saying you'd live."
"I'm the Amazing, um, no, I'm Doctor Frog-Leg!"
"Well, that's my pro-wrestling name," he said.
That was the big thing in school that week. There was going to be a pro-wrestling tournament in the gym Friday night, and kids were joking about what their wrestler names would be.
"Watch this!" Doc said.
Abby looked down at her notebook. Her mom had married Doc's dad three years before, so she was used to him. They mostly got along. But sometimes she felt it was best to ignore him. For example, any time he said "Watch this!"
"I'm really gonna do it," he said.
"I'm trying to read," she said.
"Here goes!" he said.
"Hold on!" a voice shouted. "Don't jump on me!"
Doc looked at Abby.
"That wasn't me," she said.
"Don't jump!" the voice said again. A man's voice.
Abby pointed to the big box. "Almost sounds like it was coming from ..."
The box shook. Something was moving around inside it.
The voice said, "It's so dark in here." The box flaps flipped open, and the voice said, "Ah, that's better."
Then a black hat appeared, then a head, then a chest. It was a tall man in a black suit. He had a thin, bony face and wild hair sticking out from under his hat.
He looked a lot like Abraham Lincoln.
Abby stood so fast her chair fell over.
Doc was frozen in pre-jump position, knees bent and arms out in front of him.
The man in the box lifted a very long leg and tried to step out, but the whole thing tipped over. He tumbled to the floor with a loud thud. His tall hat went flying and a few pieces of paper fell out.
Slowly, calmly, like nothing unusual was going on, the man collected the papers. He stuck them in the lining of his hat. He stood and dusted off his jacket.
The guy really looked exactly like the poster of Abraham Lincoln in their classroom. Except he didn't have that beard-but-no-mustache you always see in Lincoln pictures.
He said, "How many legs does a dog have, if you call the tail a leg?"
Abby was too stunned to speak.
Doc said, "Um, five?"
"No, only four," the man said, smiling. "Calling the tail a leg doesn't make it a leg!" He roared with laughter.
He was the only one.
"I see you don't care for my jokes," the man said. "Well, you're in good company. Mrs. Lincoln is very much on your side." And he laughed again. "Forgive me for dropping in like this. I'm Abraham Lincoln."
He held out his right hand to Abby. They shook.
"Abby," she said. "That's Doc."
The visitor reached up and shook hands with Doc.
"Pleasure to meet you, friend," he said. "Need help getting down?"
"Not really," Doc said. "But since you're standing right there." He rested a hand on the man's shoulder and jumped to the ground.
The man looked around.
He was still acting like everything was normal.
"So, um," Abby said. "Who actually are you?"
He laughed. "I'm truly Abraham Lincoln, I assure you."
"Then where's your beard?" Doc asked. "Everyone knows you have a beard."
"Oh, I grew that later. It's a good story, actually."
The man claiming to be Lincoln sat down and folded one leg over the other. The look on his face turned serious.
"But we have more important matters to discuss than facial hair," he said. "I want to talk to you about what happened today. In class, when you were reading the history book, you may have noticed that the story didn't seem quite right."
"You mean the part where Lincoln just sat at his desk?" Doc said.
"And read a newspaper?" Abby added.
"Lovely way to spend the day," the man said. "But all wrong! Don't you see?"
They didn't see.
"It's not what's supposed to happen!" the man shouted. "And that's all your fault!"
"Ours?" Abby asked.
"Yes, yours. Both of you, your class, your teacher ..."
Abby and Doc both started to think of a lot of questions. But the man didn't give them time to ask.
"We can hear what you say, you know," he said. "When you say, 'History is boring.' When you make snoring noises."
"Wasn't me," Doc said.
"Please, friend," the man said. "We hear it all. How do you think that makes us feel?"
"Hold on," Abby said. "You're saying 'we' ... you mean you and, um ..."
"I mean myself, yes. And all the other people from history. Everyone. We hear everything you say."
The box he'd come out of was still on its side. Abby bent down to look in. There were a few books in the back corner.
"How did you get here?" she asked.
"What matters is that I'm here," he said. "Just this once. I'm here to tell you that I won't stand for it anymore."
"Stand for what?" Doc asked.
"Snoring, for one thing," the man said, looking right into Doc's eyes. "Saying I'm boring, groaning in agony when it comes time to read about history. As I said, today was just a warning. If you do it again — well, you'll see."
He set the box upright.
"And believe me, you won't like it," he said. "Now, help me get back into this thing."
Doc and Abby held the box steady. The tall man stood on a chair, leaned forward, and sort of stepped, sort of belly flopped into the box.
But with no sound.
Abby stood on her tiptoes to look into the box. It was about as tall as she was. And empty, except for the books at the bottom.
The next morning, as always, Doc and Abby got to school early with their mom. She went right to her classroom, and Doc and Abby walked to the cafeteria for breakfast.
"So should we say something?" Abby asked.
"You mean about Lincoln?"
"Yeah," Abby said. "About what he said. Warn the class or something?"
"Like what?" Doc said. "Like, 'Oh, hi, class, I just wanted to let you know that yesterday, after school, Abraham Lincoln appeared in a cardboard box and told me and Abby to tell you guys not to make fun of history.'"
"That does sound kind of weird."
They slid their trays toward the cash register. Mr. Biddle, the gym teacher, was ahead of them in line.
"Morning, guys," he said.
"Good morning, Mr. Biddle," they both said.
They carried their food to a table and started to eat.
"Anyway, there's no way it was really Lincoln," Doc said with a mouthful of toast. "I mean, he lived in the eighteen, you know, somethings."
"So who do you think it was?"
"I don't know," Doc said. He looked at Mr. Biddle, who was standing nearby, joking around with a few kids. "Maybe it was him."
"Mr. Biddle?" Abby asked.
"Looked sort of like him."
"A tiny bit," Abby said. "But why would he do that? He mostly likes dodgeball. And how did he just disappear into the box like that?"
Doc sipped his chocolate milk. "Couldn't tell you."
* * *
"Okay, you lucky ducks," Ms. Maybee told the class later that morning. "It's that time again. That special time you've all been waiting for, hoping for, praying for ..."
Abby turned and looked at Doc.
"That's right," chirped Ms. Maybee. "Time to get out those history textbooks!" Groans, grumbles, sighs, snores.
Abby looked up at the picture of Abe Lincoln on the wall. He seemed to be staring right at her.
But what could she do?
Ms. Maybee laughed. "You big babies, today's going to be better. We'll read about how Lincoln became president of the United States and faced the Civil War, the greatest crisis in American history."
Then came the usual cracks:
"Do we have to?"
"Can't we just watch glue dry instead?"
"Let's do another math worksheet!"
Everyone was laughing — except Abby, Doc, and the teacher. Normally Doc would have jumped in with a joke of his own. Everyone was expecting him to.
Instead, he said, "Let's give it a chance."
The other kids were in shock.
"I like history," Doc said.
"No you don't!" someone shouted.
"Well," Doc said, "it could be, you know, not too terrible."
"Thank you, Doc," Ms. Maybee said. "Louis, get us started. Page one twenty-six."
Louis read out loud: "Abraham Lincoln sat in a rocking chair in the living room of his house. He was wearing a robe and slippers. He was reading a newspaper."
Louis looked up from the book. "It's the same as yesterday. He's not doing anything."
Ms. Maybee looked worried. But she said, "Keep going, please."
"Lincoln sat in the chair, reading, for about an hour. Then he got up. He folded the newspaper and tucked it under his arm. He walked out the back door to a tiny white building behind the house. It was the family outhouse, a three-holer. Lincoln opened the door and —"
"Okay, let's stop there," Ms. Maybee cut in. She looked down at her own copy of the book and read a little more. "Oh, gross," she said.
And she shut the book. History was over for the day.
After school, in the storage room behind the library, Abby dragged a chair over to the big box — Lincoln's box. She stood on the chair, opened the top flaps of the box, and looked in.
Nothing down there but the textbooks.
"He's not coming back," Doc said from the doorway. He came in and shut the door behind him. "He said he'd give us just one chance."
"So what are we supposed to do?"
"That's it, then?" Abby asked. "Lincoln's just going to sit there forever?"
"Looks like it," Doc said.
He jumped onto the table, then onto the wobbly stack of boxes he'd climbed the day before. "I never did get to make that jump."
"It's all our fault," Abby said. "He warned us."
"Hey, I tried," Doc said. "You didn't. Think I can make it? To the big box?"
Abby rolled her eyes. "Don't be stupid," she said. "The box is almost empty."
"So you'll fall right through and break your — ugh, who cares."
Abby sat down at the table and opened her backpack.
Doc said, "I'm really going to!"
Abby took out a book and started reading.
Doc screamed, as he jumped. He sailed across the room, made it to the big box, hit the top flaps of the box feet-first, fell through, and disappeared.
No crashing sound. No screams of pain.
Abby waited. The box didn't move.
She got up and stood on her tiptoes and looked in.
On the bottom was the layer of books. Nothing else.
* * *
Doc came down hard in a cloud of dust.
"Look out, there!" a man shouted.
Doc looked up. A horse-drawn wagon was rattling right toward him.
Doc froze. The wagon swerved and the wheels of the wagon missed Doc's legs by inches.
"Get out of the road!" the driver yelled.
Road? Doc wondered. What road? Doc looked around. Yep, he was on the road. A wide, dirt road. And another wagon was heading his way.
He bounced to his feet and ran to the sidewalk. He was standing there, brushing the dust off his jeans, when Abby landed a few yards away.
"Over here!" Doc shouted to her.
She dodged a galloping horse and made it to the sidewalk.
He was smiling at her. "You jumped."
"Into the box? Yeah."
"I'm proud of you," Doc said.
"For being as dumb as you?"
"As daring, you mean."
"Okay, fine," Abby said. "Where are we?"
"Not a clue," he said.
They looked around. Horses and carriages rolled down the dirt road. People walked by on the sidewalk — men in old-fashioned suits, women in dresses. Two- and three-story brick buildings lined the road.
"It's like history," Doc said. "Except, you know, in color."
Abby stepped in front of a woman who was passing by.
"Hi, sorry," Abby said. "Silly question, but ... remind me of where we are?"
"Pardon me, child?"
"Like, the name of this town. What is it again?"
The woman looked Abby up and down, then Doc. "This is Springfield, Illinois," she said. "Where did you get those strange clothes?"
"I think the mall," Doc said.
"And what year is it?" asked Abby.
But the woman was already hurrying away. Looking slightly scared.
Abby and Doc started walking in the other direction.
"So what do you think?" Doc asked. "We're inside a book?"
"Or back in time?" Abby wondered. "Like The Magic Treehouse?"
"The Magic Cardboard Box," Doc said. "That doesn't sound as good."
"No, it doesn't. Maybe it's a dream?"
"Must be your dream, then. Mine are more exciting."
They crossed the street and walked down a block with wooden houses.
"You know, zooming over cities, fighting zombies," Doc said. "Either that or I go to school in my underwear."
"Thanks for sharing," Abby said. "Hey, that looks like the picture in our textbook."
She pointed to a house on the corner of Eighth and Jackson Streets. It was a light brown two-story house with green shutters.
"Lincoln's house?" Doc said.
"I think so," Abby said. "What are those kids doing?"
Four kids were on the sidewalk in front of the house. One boy was sitting on another boy's shoulders. He was tying a string around a tree, as high up as he could reach.
Excerpted from "Abraham Lincoln, Pro Wrestler"
Copyright © 2018 Steve Sheinkin.
Excerpted by permission of Roaring Brook Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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