Saturday, March 21, 2009

Meeting Rosemary Wells

My associations with illustrious writer Rosemary Wells used to have everything to do with my brother. My brother’s name is Max, so of course, my mother read us the Max and Ruby series constantly. I played the part of Ruby with finesse, enlisting my brother in mischievous schemes and instructing him in the important facts of life. It always seemed unfair to me, however, that my brother had namesakes in so many books, especially two of the best ones. The other one being Maurice Sendak’s Max in Where the Wild Things Are. (I have one mention of my name in The Harder They Come soundtrack, but I can hardly count that.) Trying not to be bitter, I left work early to join other aficionados of children’s literature at Esme’s Gingerbread Apartment and meet Rosemary Wells. To my surprise, I found myself connecting my experience to my father, Andy, instead of my brother. Rosemary Wells discussed and read from Lincoln and His Boys, a unique biography that shows a different side of Lincoln through the eyes of his children. She extensively researched Lincoln’s relationship with his children, as well as the political events of the time, in order to make sure all details were “grounded in historical fact” (95). By making Willie and Tad the narrators, the reader catches a glimpse of Lincoln when he was the most unguarded, behind closed doors with his family. We see him as a warm, playful father who tries to explain the complexities of politics and war to his young, inquisitive sons. Wells herself has become an expert about Lincoln after her years of research and it was fascinating to hear her debunk some of the myths about Lincoln and his times. Like her, my father is obsessed with Lincoln, and is always excited to read the latest biography of Lincoln’s life. I think that my father’s interest with Lincoln comes from his own passion for racial equality and humanitarianism, which he has transferred to me throughout the years. Reading about a father’s special relationship with his children makes me appreciate the close connection that I share with mine. And when I stood in line to have my book signed, I knew exactly how I wanted to have it done: “To Eti, Max, and Andy – Rosemary Wells.”

Lincoln and His Boys by Rosemary Wells
Illustrated by P.J. Lynch
Historically accurate
Beautiful and important dialogue
Captures emotion
Leaves reader wanting more – go on to read more books about Lincoln

Rosemary Wells's Website

Special thanks to Rivka P. for joining me (and providing transportation) for this excursion.

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