Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Lincoln's Grave Robers Review

Lincoln's Grave Robbers

Book talk:  In 1875 counterfeiting was a big business.  So big that a new government agency was formed with the responsibility of tracking down counterfeiters: the Secret Service.  The key to counterfeiting is good plates, and for that you need an expert engraver.  The best in the business was Benjamin Boyd.  He was so good that when the Secret Service caught him, his friends were willing to do anything to bust him free.  Even if it meant stealing the corpse of President Abraham Lincoln.

Rocks my socks:  The book read like an old-fashioned heist film at parts as the criminals plotted out their crime and the Secret Service men set their trap.  I enjoyed all the slang and other details that made me feel like I was experiencing life at the time.  Some of the scenes seemed to be straight from a movie, like the story of famed escape expert Pete McCartney breaking out of jail to visit a Secret Service man, make a few glib comments, and then walk right back to prison.  It doesn't seem like the kind of thing that would happen in real life, and I'm delighted to know that it did.  I particularly appreciated all the photographs, paintings, and copies of primary source documents included throughout the book.

Rocks in my socks:  I would have liked the book better if it had a different title.  It never lives up to the promise of Lincoln's Grave Robbers.  I suppose The Coney Men Who Attempted to Steal Lincoln's Body doesn't roll off the tongue though.  The Secret Service agent is aware of what's happening the entire time, so I never felt any concern that they'd pull it off. Some of the details added to focus it more on Lincoln dragged the pacing down--the exact layout of the tomb, etc.  I would have liked it better if it was a more general story of the dawn of the Secret Service or the lives of Coney Men.

Every book its reader:  I'd give this to kids 5th grade and up looking for a real-life criminal adventure story and fans of American history.


Scholastic has a page for the book with a discussion guide

I love this student-made trailer for the book:

Source: School library

Lincoln's Grave Robbers by Steve Sheinkin: buy it or check it out today!

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