by Dawn FitzGerald and illustrated by Catherine Stock
This true tale — sweetened with floral endpapers and invented dialogue — of how teenaged sculptor Vinnie Ream won the government commission to immortalize Abraham Lincoln in marble is a welcome addition to the canon of picture books about the 16th U.S. president.
Despite Lincoln sharing top billing in the title, Vinnie and Abraham is really the story of Ream, the first woman and youngest artist to win such an assignment from Congress. Ream and Lincoln share only a single spread together, a depiction of the 2 1/2 hours he spent with her each week posing for a bust.
The rest of FitzGerald‘s frequently pointed telling covers the growth of Ream’s prodigious talents, the limited professional options open to young women during the Civil War era, Ream’s knack for creating opportunities for herself, and the technical details of how she went about creating the statue, right down to selecting the stone in an Italian quarry.
Stock‘s lovely watercolors add to the warmth, intimacy, and inspiration of the text, with one particularly noteworthy added touch — repeated depictions the 1860s construction of the Capitol’s dome, beneath which lies the rotunda where Ream’s statue resides today.
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