OK, here we are. Second review of the month. Remember my goal? It’s three. So now I’m more than halfway there.
This year, I “discovered” author Steve Sheinkin. His book, Bomb: The Race to Build–and Steal–the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon, has gotten a lot of good reviews this year. And here’s what instantly turned him into one of my favorite authors. He is a former writer of History textbooks, and he says he has spent the rest of his life trying to make up for that. Do you think your Social Studies book is boring? Well, Mr. Sheinkin wrote them, and he agrees! And he’s sorry.
So, you should check out Bomb if you’re interested in spies and World War II, but the book I’m reviewing right now is his newest, Lincoln’s Grave Robbers.
We all know who Abraham Lincoln was. Without a doubt, one of our best presidents. But did you know that a gang of crooked criminals tried to steal his corpse! Ya! Crazy!
The story takes place after the Civil War, several years after Lincoln was assassinated. One of the biggest problems in the country is counterfeiting money. It is so huge that the government created the Secret Service just to try to stop it. That’s right, the Secret Service–those guys who protect the president–was originally started to try to put an end to fake money.
Anyway, one of the top counterfeiters in the nation gets caught and thrown in jail. So some of the others have the brilliant idea to steal Lincoln’s body and hold it as ransom until their colleague is freed.
The story is interesting and exciting–it reads like a crime thriller. Lots of twists and turns, double crosses, stakeouts, and all kinds of wicked fun.
I want to tell you one more thing, and it relates to why this story is so fun. Often, we feel that nonfiction and informational texts can be boring and bland–they often are! Even Steve Sheinkin says so. There are different reasons for this. One is that it is very difficult to write exciting, interesting expository writing. It can be done, for sure! (I just read a great expository book called The Book of Blood) But it’s hard. Because of this, some of the best informational writing is narrative nonfiction. From our writing classes, we know that narrative writing tells a story, while expository writing explains. So, narrative nonfiction is a story, with a beginning, middle, and end, that happens to be true. When we write our personal narratives, they are kind of like this, though they are a special kind of autobiographical narrative nonfiction called memoir.
Lincoln’s Grave Robbers is narrative nonfiction, with a few expository parts sprinkled in when Mr. Sheinkin needs to give more information to the reader. The story is nonfiction, but Mr. Sheinkin writes it like a narrative story. This is part of why it is so exciting and interesting. So, now you know. Narrative nonfiction is awesome.
I just ordered a copy from the Scholastic Book Order. Come check it out from Room 3!
Lincoln’s Grave Robbers
By Steve Sheinkin
Genre: Informational; history; crime