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Forecasts from March 1 Issue: Comics

-- Publishers Weekly, 3/1/2004

ABRAHAM LINCOLN: The Civil War President

This latest addition to the growing number of educational graphic novels provides a superb introduction to Lincoln's presidency for grade-schoolers. The creators go beyond the title's scope to create a panorama of the country during the Civil War. Though Lincoln is their lead, they present an ensemble cast, including historical figures like African-American civil rights pioneer Frederick Douglass and a number of fictional characters caught up in the era's political and racial divisions. There's Samson, an escaped slave traveling the Underground Railroad to freedom; Duff and his father John Alexander, who find themselves fighting on opposite sides; and Duff's courageous girlfriend, Mary. The authors link the characters through the winning device of Lincoln's actual dog Fido. The book has Fido wandering the country during the war, trying to find his master, befriending the other characters along the way. Fido's a pretty normal dog, but occasionally Turner gives him an amusingly Snoopy-esque thought balloon. And the artists persuasively convey Lincoln's genuine goodness without sentimentality. Though the book acknowledges Lincoln's slowness to take action against slavery, it clearly shows the strength of his commitment to put an end to it. Most strikingly, Turner explains that Lincoln knows he is under continual danger of assassination and yet he quietly and bravely continues to "do my job." Tiwari's artwork, clearly based on Herge's classic Tintin, is simple but conveys an epic grandeur in its depictions of battle scenes. This book's main audience may be children, but parents and teachers should find it touching as well. (Feb.)

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