Chasing Lincoln’s Killer by James L. Swanson

Swanson, James L. Chasing Lincoln’s Killer. Scholastic Press, 2009. 198 pages. Hardcover $14.49, ISBN 978-0-439-90354-7; PLB $18.51, ISBN 978-0-329-87737-8


TL;DR: Do I Recommend This? Yes


Genre: Nonfiction (history)


Part of a series? No.


Plot Summary:

Written much like a thriller, Chasing Lincoln’s Killer immerses readers in the days leading up to and immediately following the assassination of President Lincoln. Even as an adult who should remember from history class how the event turned out, I was completely absorbed and had to know what happened next. Swanson writes dramatically about Booth’s confidence, his charisma, and his Confederate sympathies as he plots the murder of the president of the United States and several important members of his administration. Action jumps from assassination to assassination attempt, leaving readers with some cliffhangers until we return to those people. The information about Booth’s hideout, trip across the river, and firestorm/shootout in the tobacco barn unfolds like the climax of an action film.


Critical Evaluation/Reader’s Comments:

Some of the language was a bit too dramatic, and the author takes some liberties assuming the attitudes or mindsets of different people throughout the account, but overall the book was an exciting look at this moment in American history.


Curriculum Ties/Library Use:

I definitely recommend this book to young history enthusiasts or someone working on a project – this could be a “fun” read that would be of assistance during a Civil War assignment. Students looking to research Abraham Lincoln, John Wilkes Booth, and the end of the Civil War will enjoy having this book on hand.


Grade Level: 5 and up (SLJ)


Awards and Starred Reviews:

Publishers Weekly starred 1/12/09

School Library Journal starred 1/1/09


Review referenced:

Owens, P. A. (2009). Chasing Lincoln’s Killer: The search for John Wilkes Booth (Review of the book Chasing Lincoln’s Killer). School Library Journal, 55(1), p. 130.



Historical Flavor: The U. S. History Cookbook

D’Amico, Joan. The U. S. History Cookbook: Delicious Recipes and Exciting Events from the Past. Illustrated by Jeff Cline. J. Wiley, 2003. 180 pages. Tr. $13.65, ISBN 978-0-471-13602-6

Interest Level: 3-6

Cuisine: American/American New

This book does a great job of combining United States history and foods from important moments and eras to give kids a chance to have a multi-sensory understanding of events in the United States. While this book has no photographs, it has a great introduction to what tools are in the kitchen as well as what basic ingredients young chefs should have on hand; each of these items is clearly illustrated in a cartoon style, but the cartoons are very realistic, and there is no confusion as to what each item is. Including recipes for foods such as Depression Cake, Mother Earth’s Zucchini Bread, Awesome Tacos, and Ralph’s Rib-Stickin’ Hot and Spicy Texas Ribs, there is something here for everyone. Instructions are clear, and the information on historical events is interesting. Readers may also find an “American Food and Cooking Timeline” at the back of the book, a fascinating look at ways that seemingly simple items (baking soda, canned goods, or margarine) affected the food and cooking world, particularly in America! The reason I chose this book was that tweens encounter U.S. History at least once in their tween years; many California schools cover U.S. History in fifth and eighth grades. By having a cookbook with information about the history that students are learning, the library can help kids interact with history in new ways. Much like how the Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook above is meant to help tweens imagine what life is like at Hogwarts, this book will help students think about life in different points of American History. It even talks about different advances in cooking appliances, which might give tweens something interesting to consider.


Review referenced: When I looked for reviews for this book, I did not find that it was reviewed by School Library Journal, so I checked for user reviews on Amazon. 82% of this book’s reviews are 5-star reviews.


JHB (screen name). (2006, May 29). Absolutely outstanding ! (Review of the book The   U. S. History Cookbook: Delicious Recipes and Exciting Events from the Past.) Retrieved from  Delicious-Exciting/dp/0471136026