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The Picture Book Buzz

Tad Lincoln's Restless Wiggle - Perfect Picture Book Friday #PPBF

Beth Anderson's done it again. She's created a wonderful book about President Abraham Lincoln's son, Thomas "Tad" Lincoln. Honestly, I can't recall if I knew he had children or that he was responsible for the first turkey pardoning. This book looks behind the scenes into the Lincoln White House and shows how Tad's lively energy and compassion brought joy to his father and the soldiers fighting the civil war, and freedom for a turkey.

Tad Lincoln's Restless Wriggle: Pandemonium and Patience in the President's House

Author: Beth Anderson

Illustrator: S.D. Schindler

Publisher: Astra House Publishing/Calkins Creek (2021)

Ages: 7-10



Disability, boundless energy, and compassion.


Tad Lincoln's restless wriggle just wouldn’t quit, much to the delight of his father, President Abraham Lincoln—if not so much to anybody else! This picture book brings to life the famous first son who coped with a disability and other challenges while showing compassion, intelligence, and wisdom beyond his years.

Tad Lincoln's boundless energy annoyed almost everyone but his father, President Abraham Lincoln. But Tad put that energy to good use during the tough times of the Civil War. Abraham Lincoln guided Tad's wriggle on visits to hospitals, to the telegraph office, and to army camps. Tad greeted visitors, raised money for bandages, and kept his father company late into the night. This special and patient bond between father and son was plain to see, and before long, Tad had wriggled his way into the hearts of others as well. Beth Anderson and S.D. Schindler follow Tad's antics during the Civil War to uncover the generous heart and joyful spirit that powered Tad's restless wriggle.

Opening Lines:

Thomas Lincoln wriggled from the

moment he was born.

Like a tadpole, thought Abraham,

and he called his son “Tad.”

The name stuck.

So did the wriggle.

What I LOVED about this book:

While many people know about Abraham Lincoln as President, this book does a great job of introducing us to Abraham Lincoln as a father, through his relationship with his son, Tad. Despite being born with a possible cleft and being hard to understand, for his father, struggling with the civil war, Tad's boundless energy and antics were a ray of sunshine.

Text © Beth Anderson, 2021. Image © S.D. Schindler, 2021.

Beth Anderson and S.D. Schindler do a great job encapsulating the energy and enthusiasm of Tad Lincoln and his father's barely contained amusement, love, and understanding. Following Tad's dashes through the White House and surrounding Washington, D.C., the reader gets a glimpse of the times through intriguing, softly-colored illustrations.

Text © Beth Anderson, 2021. Image © S.D. Schindler, 2021.

Even though others weren't amused, Lincoln gently guided his son's wriggle and compassion. He saw Tad's intelligence and business sense in the numerous plans he developed to help raise money for the soldiers. He saw Tad's ability to read people. And he especially saw Tad's compassion in his care for soldiers, stray kids, and animals,. I love that, like Lincoln, the book finds the positive aspects of Tad's boundless energy and gigantic heart. When a turkey arrived at the White House, Tad befriended it and ultimately pled for its life. I love the images of the various menageries following Tad.

Text © Beth Anderson, 2021. Image © S.D. Schindler, 2021.

What began, according to Beth's wonderfully detailed author's note, as a story about the first "turkey pardon," became a touching tribute to the relationship between Abraham Lincoln and his son. A loving relationship that encouraged a boisterous, big-hearted young boy to help soldiers and others with his " love, and comfort, and a wriggle of sunshine!"

A detailed bibliography complements the author's note in providing many resources and information about Thomas "Tad" Lincoln's life. This is a great addition to books about our country's history, the Lincolns, and kids who have lived in the White House.


- why do you think Tad's behavior shocked staff, advisors, and visitor's? How do you think they expected a President's son to act? How does Tad's behavior affect the President? Do you think a kid could act this way in the White House now?

- what items in the pictures tell you this book occurred in the past? Did you see the "hearing trumpet"? What items in your house would Tad find strange? Why?

- can you find a stuffed animal, books, or clothing drive near you? How about a pet food drive for a local shelter?

- check out the teacher's guide (here) for other ideas.

If you missed it, be sure to check out Monday's interview with Beth Anderson (here).

This post is part of a series by authors and KidLit bloggers called Perfect Picture Book Fridays. For more picture book suggestions see Susanna Leonard Hill's Perfect Picture Books.


Maria Marshall

 Photograph © A. Marshall

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