Reviews for Lincoln Tells a Joke : How Laughter Saved the President (and the Country)


Booklist Reviews 2010 February #2
Laughter is not only good medicine. It can also be a political tool, human motivator, and saving grace, as the authors show in this upbeat overview of Lincoln's life. Moving through the sixteenth president's many challenges, from family deaths to lost elections to fighting slavery, the text emphasizes how Lincoln coped with a joke on his tongue and a smile on his lips. Many direct quotes are interwoven in a contrasting font within the spreads that delve into subjects such as his military service, when he faced "a good many bloody battles--with mosquitoes," and marriage: "Here I am, and here is Mrs. Lincoln. And that's the long and short of it." Innerst's acrylic artwork feels homey and humorous, very much in the style of his previous work with Krull, M is for Music (2003), and while not every word or picture is necessarily a hoot and a holler, they do present a positive portrait that humanizes the lionized man for whom it was "a love of laughter that kept him going." Copyright 2010 Booklist Reviews.

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Horn Book Guide Reviews 2010 Fall
It's his sense of humor, rather than a single wisecrack, that Krull and Brewer explore through Lincoln's quips. Departing from Lincoln's levity is the inclusion of less amusing, but perhaps more instructive, information on his love of language, grammar, and elocution. Innerst displays his own sense of humor by creating near-caricatures that exaggerate Lincoln's long, lanky frame and numerous bad hair days. Bib. Copyright 2010 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

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Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2010 #3
To be honest, Abe, you told way more than one joke during your lifetime and laughed at many more. And it is that sense of humor, rather than a single wisecrack, that Krull and Brewer explore through Lincoln's quips (describing a fellow barrister: "That man can pack the most words into the least ideas of any man I know"); his political acumen ("Whenever I hear anyone arguing for slavery, I feel a strong impulse to see it tried on him personally"); and his self-deprecation ("Common-looking people are the best in the world; that is the reason the Lord makes so many of them"). Departing from Lincoln's levity is the inclusion of less amusing, but perhaps more instructive, information on his love of language, grammar, and elocution. Innerst displays his own sense of humor by creating near-caricatures that exaggerate Lincoln's long, lanky frame and numerous bad hair days, although when the text calls for solemnity, the illustrations become more sober. Appended with a list of source material, as well as the web address of a collection of Lincoln's famous speeches, most of which are serious rather than humorous. Copyright 2010 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.

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Kirkus Reviews 2010 March #2
Not many biographies of the 16th U.S. president begin "Poor Abraham Lincoln." This one does and goes on to list the reasons why the man's life was "hardly fun," but then it gets right to the titular theme: "But Lincoln had his own way of dealing with life. Not many people remember it today. It was all about laughing." (In a lovely acrylic painting of the famous Lincoln log cabin, an escaping plume of "HaHaHaHas" mirrors the chimney smoke.) It wasn't just jokes: "Words mattered," and Lincoln's witticisms are quoted liberally throughout: "Whenever I hear anyone arguing for slavery, I feel a strong impulse to see it tried on him personally." Innerst's gorgeous, textured paintings, many of them caricatures, are varied and inventive: When Lincoln's great height is described in the text, his head and feet are cropped off the page. It's a quirkily specific biography, but, as with Deborah Chandra and Madeleine Comora's wonderful George Washington's Teeth, illustrated by Brock Cole (2003), it reveals the human side of an American icon in an unusual, lively and thought-provoking way. (authors' note, sources) (Picture book/biography. 6-9) Copyright Kirkus 2010 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 2010 March #4

Krull and her husband, Brewer, begin this unique portrait of Lincoln by cataloguing the reasons he had to be depressed ("His childhood was harsh. He looked homely and he knew it"). Subsequent pages proceed to tell Lincoln's story through the lens of his antidote for these disappointments: humor. Whether finding it in joke books or by making fun of his ungainly frame and snobby in-laws (" 'One d is enough for God, but the Todds need two,' he wrote"), this chronological biography shows how the president used his sophisticated wit and penchant for wordplay to salve hardships and soothe foes. The hazy edges, muted hues, and earth tones of Innerst's (M Is for Music) stylized acrylics underline the image of Lincoln as backwoodsman-turned-politician. Exaggerated faces and cartoon touches keep the tone light, even as the authors touch on serious subjects. The final spread depicts Lincoln seated in his D.C. memorial chuckling as he reads a humor book he enjoyed as a boy. Readers will smile, too, at this lighthearted look at Lincoln and the many droll quotations attributed to him. Ages 5-8. (Apr.)

[Page 69]. Copyright 2010 Reed Business Information.

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School Library Journal Reviews 2010 March

Gr 1-4--The legends that endure about Lincoln are many: his log-cabin childhood, his honesty, his eloquence. What is less-often discussed is how he used humor to diffuse tense political situations, disarm critics, and undo the stresses of running the country. His love of words in general, and jokes and humor more specifically, helped him throughout his life when things were difficult, uncomfortable, and downright dire, as they often were during the Civil War. Krull is an expert at teasing out the fun, quirky sides of her subjects and sharing them in a way that is both genuine and engaging. This take on Lincoln is no exception. He is portrayed as an accessible, endearing, and sympathetic figure, not just another president. Children will be drawn in by the straightforward prose, and librarians will enjoy sharing the book aloud. Innerst's colorful and unconventional acrylic illustrations cover the entire page and are the perfect complement to both the text and the subject matter, making this a standout biography. Pair it with Deborah Chandra and Madeleine Comora's George Washington's Teeth (Farrar, 2003) for a unique look at two of our most famous leaders.--Jody Kopple, Shady Hill School, Cambridge, MA

[Page 142]. Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

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School Library Journal Reviews 2012 September
Gr 2-4-Lincoln faced enormous challenges personally and politically. In this readable biography, the authors complement key events with quips that demonstrate his keen sense of humor and love of language. Exaggerated acrylic illustrations match the folksy tone, while thick, slightly uneven brushstrokes add a timeworn appearance. (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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