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Meet Abraham Lincoln
posted March 18, 2008
 

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Creators: Barbara Cary, Jack Davis
Publishing Information: Random House, hardcover, 88 pages, 1965
Ordering Numbers:

imageI picked up a copy of this book after seeing its various Jack Davis illustrations in this Flickr set. The book is from a program they called "step-up" books at the time of its 1965 publication, meaning books that were slightly more challenging for young readers in terms of the vocabulary involved, but also printed at a larger size and blessed with visual accompaniment. Blessed is an appropriate word here. It's about time for a Jack Davis reappraisal along the lines of the last half-decade's worth of attention paid to Will Elder, I think. The work here is really warm and inviting, and Davis does marvelous things with how Lincoln's height made him feel at various points in his career. The slightly stooped and awkward dancing Lincoln seen below is as wonderful in its own way as the kinds of tics that Cary Grant or Jimmy Stewart might bring to a scene at the height of their careers. Davis' Lincoln isn't just physically reacting, his presence from scene to scene reveals his relationship to the person sharing space with him -- tall and commanding with General Grant, ramrod straight behind a desk at the White House, crouched and solicitous of a group of wounded soldiers. It's a surprisingly warm portrayal that would only subconsciously influence the reading of the book, but to even work in such nuanced visual language says a lot about the quality of Davis' work, here and everywhere.

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