Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Chasing Lincoln's Killer

I'm starting my summer reading early.

You may have noticed that I'm not a huge nonfiction fan; I never have been. Still, I want to be able to recommend some nonfiction titles from our list and the only one I have read is the fantastic Chew On This (my review). When I found Chasing Lincoln's Killer in our staff room, I figured I would give it a try.

Author James Swanson has been obsessed with Lincoln since childhood. His diligence and attention to detail paid off in a highly detailed and engaging book. Swanson has a gift for taking historical documents and recreating a story which appeals to young readers. The events unfold over twelve days and Swanson keeps up a fast pace. It helps that he is able to include some gruesome descriptions that middle school students love. I found myself cringing when I read, "The doctors probed Lincoln's bullet wound with their bare, dirty fingers, sticking their pinkies inside Lincoln's brain." This is the kind of history that fascinates my sixth graders.

While everyone is familiar with Lincoln's assassination by John Wilkes Booth, there is so much more to learn. Chasing Lincoln's Killer is the perfect blend of information and narrative retelling; I will be handing it to many students for the summer.

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