Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Honey: The Dog Who Saved Abe Lincoln by Shari Swanson, illustrated by Chuck Groenink

In her debut picture book, author Shari Swanson re-imagines a little known event from Abraham Lincoln's life when he was only 7-years-old and living in Knob Creek, Kentucky in this fictionalized slice-of-life biography. While waiting for the miller, Mr. John Hodgen, to grind his sacks of grain, Abe usually wandered into the nearby woods, returning to the mill when he heard the miller's three shill blasts of his whistle. There were always so many things for a boy to see or animals to rescue in the woods.

On one visit to the mill, Abe wandered into the woods and discovered a little honey-colored puppy with a broken leg. After setting the puppy's leg with sticks and bark, he took the dog home with him, begging his mother to let him keep him, telling her: "He'll do lots of good things for me." From then on, everywhere Abe went, Honey followed.

One day, after dropping off a bag of grain at the mill, Abe and Honey took to the woods. Discovering a cave, they no sooner started exploring than Abe's foot became wedged between two rocks. As day became night and Abe hadn't returned to the mill, Mr. John and Abe's mother Nancy waited and worried. Finally, Honey showed up and led Mr. Hodgen, Nancy, and some neighbors to the cave where they rescued Abe. Indeed, Honey lived up to Abe prediction, doing lots of good things for him, including saving his life.

There's nothing more appealing to a young reader than a story about a boy and his dog and their adventures. Honey: The Dog Who Saved Abe Lincoln is a particularly appealing story because it introduces them to an historical person that they may already be familiar with, but in a more accessible way and it provides a nice window for them into the kind of man the boy Abe Lincoln grew up to be.

Though this is a fictionalized account, it is based on a true story that had been recounted by Abe's best friend, Austin Gollaher. You can read more about Abe and Honey in the Author's Note in the back matter. Swanson also includes a Timeline of Abraham Lincoln and His Animal Encounters that young readers will no doubt want to explore.

Chuck Groenink's cartoon style illustrations, done in a palette of pastel earth tones and single and double page spreads, really compliment the text and show the the strong connection between Abe and Honey, as well as Abe love of all animals. Be sure to explore map of Abe's neighborhood in Knob Creek found in the end papers with your young readers to give them an idea of the kind of wilderness that surrounded the area back in 1816.

Honey: The Dog Who Saved Abe Lincoln is a book your young readers will want to return to again and again. I know mine do.

You can find an excellent Curriculum Guide to download for Honey on the author's website HERE
And there is a fun Activity Kit for young readers that can also be downloaded HERE

Meet the Author: 
Shari Swanson is a debut author who has been a middle school language arts teacher as well as an appellate lawyer. She received her MFA in writing for children and young adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts, where she wrote her thesis on musicality in picture books. She lives in Southern California with her husband and their dog, Honey. You can find about more about Shari and Honey: The Dog Who Saved Abe Lincoln by visiting her website: and you can follow her on twitter at @ByShariSwanson

Meet the Illustrator: 
Chuck Groenink hails from an overgrown village among the peat bogs in the north of the Netherlands, where he spent his formative years climbing tree, drawing, reading, and cycling. He attended the Artez Institute of Visual Arts in Kampen, graduating from the department of Illustration in 2004. He moved to Portland, Oregon in 2010, and now resides in Kinderhook, New York with his wife, dog, and two cats. You can find out more about Chuck and his art by visiting his website: and you can follow him on twitter at @ChuckGroenink

This book is recommended for readers age 4+
This book was gratefully received from Blue Slip Media

1 comment:

  1. Dogs die. But dogs live, too. Right up until they die, they live. They live brave, beautiful lives. They protect their families. And love us, and make our lives a little brighter, and they don’t waste time being afraid of tomorrow.
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