Abraham Lincoln: A New Birth of Freedom

Abraham LincolnAbraham Lincoln: A New Birth of Freedom
By: Lewis Helfand and Manikandan
Published by: Campfire
Format: Softcover, 7 x 10, 108 pages, Full Color, $12.99
ISBN: 978-9-38074-121-5


One of the most challenging nonfiction characters to write about is Abraham Lincoln, president of legendary fame and consistent story-telling attention. Published by Campfire, Helfand and Manikandan's Abraham Lincoln: A New Birth of Freedom is a solid and informational resource that teachers, librarians, parents, and students will find helpful in any study of Lincoln. Written for fourth grader readers and above this graphic novel will make a solid addition to any school or home library.  

Focused on Lincoln's rise from what was then considered the wild west, Helfand and Manikandan center their story on Lincoln's rise from an impoverished and illiterate familial background to his unlikely election to the presidency of the newly founded United States. Following Lincoln from his childhood to his presidency readers will also learn about one of his most significant presidential and national contributions. The passing of the 13th amendment was critical for many reasons. Two of the those reasons featured in this graphic novel are:
1. To ensure that all men were given their freedom to pursue the American dream, just as he had done in his own life, and
2. To finally put an end to the tragic and horrifically massive loss of life that was occurring as a result of the Civil War

A great informational resource, this graphic novel is sure to inform and enhance any reader's study of Abraham Lincoln's and his legendary contributions.

Elements of Story

Plot: The life story of Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States

Major Characters: Abraham Lincoln, Mary Todd Lincoln, Sarah Bush Johnston, William Herndon, General Ulysses S. Grant, Tad Lincoln, Sarah Lincoln, Thomas Lincoln, John Brackenridge, James Gentry, Jack Armstrong, Clary Grove Boys, Ann Routledge, John Todd Stuart, Ninian Edwards and Elizabeth Todd, Ward Hill Lamon, Eddie Lincoln, Robert Todd Lincoln, William Lincoln, Tad Lincoln, Stephen A. Douglas, Judge David Davis, William Seward, Salmon P. Chase, Grace Bedell, John C. Breckinridge, Jefferson Davis, Alan Pinkerton, Elihu Washburne, Frederick Douglass, George McClellan, General Robert E. Lee, General William T. Sherman, John Wilkes Booth, Lewis Powell, George Atzerodt, David Herold, Vice President Andrew Johnson, Major Henry Rathbone and his fiancee Clara, Edwin Stanton, President Bill Clinton, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton,

Settings: Kentucky; Indiana; the Mississippi River and New Orleans; Springfield, IL; train ride to Washington DC inauguration (New York, Baltimore, etc.); Washington, DC

Themes: Perseverance, Freedom, Pursuing the American Dream, Advocating for Change, War and Peace, Loss/Death, Legacies  

Suggested Literary Pairings: Great Expectations by Charles Dickens, The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane, Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe, Up From Slavery by Booker T. Washington, The Souls of Black Folk by Booker T. Washington, Narrative of Sojourner Truth by Sojourner Truth, Lincoln by Gore Vidal, Gettysburg: The Graphic Novel by C.M. Butzer

Reading Common Core Standards Alignment

Key Ideas and Details
1. Analyze how and why individuals, events, and ideas develop and interact over the course of a text.

Middle School and High School Lesson Plan Suggestions:
As a class, draw a straight timeline across the board. Ask students to do the same in their notes.  On the far left of the line write "February 12, 1809." On the far right of the line ask students to write "April 14, 1865." These two dates span the living years of Abraham Lincoln.

Next, in groups, ask students to reread or take a quick book walk through the graphic novel one last time. As they do so ask them to keep Lincoln's significant life events in mind. When they are done rereading or book walking ask each group to add what they think are the most significant moments in Lincoln's life to the timeline.

When the groups are finished, have each group present their timelines, rationalizations, and evidence.   

Katie Monnin, PhD, is an assistant professor of literacy at the University of North Florida and author of Teaching Graphic Novels: Practical Strategies for the Secondary ELA Classroom (2010) from Maupin House. To learn more about Teaching Graphic Novels or Katie Monnin, please go to this link: http://www.maupinhouse.com/monnin.php.