February 12 – Abraham Lincoln’s Birthday


About the Holiday

Today, we celebrate the birthday of Abraham Lincoln, who was born February 12, 1809. He was elected president in 1861, shortly before the beginning of the Civil War, and went on to become one of the most beloved presidents in the nation’s history. In 1863, Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, which freed all slaves in rebel states and led to the abolition of slavery across the country. Lincoln’s birthday is celebrated in various ways throughout the United States. Organizations and institutions dedicated to teaching and preserving Lincoln’s legacy often hold large-scale events. A wreath-laying ceremony and reading of the Gettysburg Address is traditionally held at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC. Take some time today and on Presidents Day, which is observed on February 17 and commemorates the birthdays of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, while remembering all those who have served as president.

I received a copy of Honey, the Dog Who Saved Abe Lincoln from Katherine Tegan Books for review consideration. All opinions are my own. I’m happy to be partnering with HarperCollins. 

Honey, the Dog Who Saved Abe Lincoln

Written by Shari Swanson | Illustrated by Chuck Groenink


Young Abe Lincoln was deep in the forest when he heard the whistle that told him the corn he’d brought to the mill was ready. He knew he’d be late, but it was worth it to have saved a frog from the jaws of a snake. When Abe got back to the mill, John Hodgen, the miller, wondered what it had been this time that had kept Abe so long. “‘I just can’t move along fast like some boys, Mr. John, because I see so many little foolish things that make me stop. I can’t help it to save my life,“‘ Abe answered.


Image copyright Chuck Groenink, 2020, text copyright Shari Swanson, 2020. Courtesy of Kathrerine Tegen Books.

On his way home, he heard rustling in the bushes. At the bottom of a cliff, Abe found a dog with a broken leg. Although he “was only seven years old, Abe had spent his whole life on a Kentucky farm and knew how to tend to animals.” He cut a small branch to make a splint and peeled bark from a pawpaw bush to use as a bandage. He tied it all together with rawhide from his belt. It was already dark when Abe and the dog reached home.

Even though his mother knew he was prone to lateness, she’d been worried, but Abe told her about the “‘honey of a dog’” he’d found and begged her to let him keep it. “‘He’ll do lots of good things for me,’ he told her. ‘You just watch and see.’” Abe’s mother relented and soon Honey was on the mend. Even though, once healed, Honey’s foot was curved, he was able to keep up with Abe on his adventures.


Image copyright Chuck Groenink, 2020, text copyright Shari Swanson, 2020. Courtesy of Kathrerine Tegen Books.

On another day, after Abe had dropped off his grain at the mill, he grew tired of waiting and wandered into the woods, where they found the mouth of a cave. “Deep, twisting caverns traveled for hundreds of miles under Kentucky. A boy and his dog could get lost in caverns like these.” Abe and Honey made their way down into the rocky darkness. Abe was too busy looking around at the stalactites, bats, and other creatures who lurked in the shadows to notice the gap between two boulders. In a moment he was stuck tight. “Honey normally never left Abe, but this time he headed alone back into the darkening woods” to get help.

Meanwhile, everyone in town had gathered to look for Abe. Abe’s mother was at least relieved to know that Honey was with her son to protect him. As the search party began to look, Abe’s mother heard a noise in the bushes. Then she saw Honey dashing toward her. He barked and whined, but when he saw Mr. John, Honey “jumped up…and barked in his face.” Mr. John called for everyone to follow Honey.


Image copyright Chuck Groenink, 2020, text copyright Shari Swanson, 2020. Courtesy of Kathrerine Tegen Books.

Honey led them through the forest to the cave’s entrance. Mr. John blew on his whistle, and Abe answered. Mr. John crept in and found Abe. There was no room for him to swing a sledge hammer to break the rock, so he pulled him out “even though it meant leaving some of the boy’s hide behind.” Once outside, Abe’s mother rushed to hug him and Honey. Abe had been right about Honey doing great things. And for many more years, Honey and Abe enjoyed adventures together.

Back matter includes a timeline recounting Abraham Lincoln’s major life events as well as his adventures with animals throughout his life.


Image copyright Chuck Groenink, 2020, text copyright Shari Swanson, 2020. Courtesy of Kathrerine Tegen Books.

In her enchanting story, Shari Swanson introduces young readers to the boy who would grow up to be the 16th president of the United States. Children meet this beloved man as a peer, discovering that his kindness, self-deprecation, sense of humor, and big heart were always part of his personality and guided him throughout his life, during good times and times of turmoil. Abraham Lincoln’s voice drives Swanson’s storytelling, which is charming and uplifting and gives a feel for the community that raised a president. Children may be awed by the responsibility Abe took on as a mere seven-year-old but will also recognize and appreciate his knowledge, competence, and confidence. Abe’s relationship with Honey is heartwarming, demonstrating that love and loyalty are repaid in many ways.

Chuck Groenink’s digital illustrations shine with sun-dappled Kentucky forest scenes and raise the stakes with foreboding and atmospheric images of the darkened cavern. His double-page spreads give readers close-up views of the action in the story as well as places they may not be familiar with, such as the mill and the Lincoln family’s log cabin. Images of Abe setting Honey’s broken paw, sneaking table scraps to Honey, and rescuing a variety of animals will delight kids. Torchlit scenes of the nighttime search party and dramatic rescue will have readers on the edge of their seats but knowing that Honey is watching out for Abe, they will be as certain of the triumphant ending.

A charming and compelling story for teaching young children about Abraham Lincoln and the lessons his life exhibits, Honey, the Dog Who Saved Abe Lincoln would be a first-rate addition to home, school, and public library collections.

Ages 4 – 8

Katherine Tegen Books, an imprint of HarperCollins, 2020 | ISBN 978-0062699008

Discover more about Shari Swanson and her books on her website. You’ll also find an educators’ curriculum guide and a child’s activity kit to download on her website. or here:

Educators’ Curriculum Guide | Activity Kit for Kids

To learn more about Chuck Groenink, his books, and his art, visit his website.

Abraham Lincoln’s Birthday Activity

CPB - Abe Lincoln's Top Hat chalkboard (2)

Abe Lincoln’s Top Hat Chalkboard


Abraham Lincoln was known for the black top hat he wore – and for his inspiring words In this activity you can learn how to make a top hat chalkboard to use for your own drawings or inspiring words!


  • Cereal Box (I used a large sized cereal box), cardboard or poster board
  • Chalkboard Paint (black)
  • Paint brush
  • Hot Glue Gun or extra-strength glue
  • Removable mounting squares
  • Chalk


  1. If you are using cardboard or poster board: cut a rectangle at least 8 inches wide by 12 inches long for the hat and 12 inches long by 2 inches wide for the brim (but your top hat can be any size you’d like!)
  2. If you are using a Cereal Box: open the seams of the Cereal Box
  3. Cut the panels of the cereal box apart
  4. Take one face panel and one side panel
  5. With the chalkboard paint, paint both panels
  6. Let the panels dry
  7. Attach the side panel to the bottom of the face panel to create the shape of Lincoln’s top hat
  8. Hang Abe Lincoln’s Top Hat Chalkboard 


You can find Honey, the Dog Who Saved Abe Lincoln at these booksellers

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million | IndieBound

Picture Book Review

February 2 – Hedgehog Day


About the Holiday

Sure, sure…I know it’s that other –hog day, but did you know that Hedgehog day was a Roman holiday that preceded Groundhog Day? For you Marmot lovers out there, this is also that little guy’s day. But getting back to our animal of honor, here are a few hedgehog-related trivia facts for you to enjoy:

  • Hedgehog’s spines are actually hollow hairs stiffened with keratin
  • Hedgehogs hunt at night and can smell food an inch below the ground
  • When hedgehogs smell or taste something icky they give themselves a cleansing saliva shower

And one more:

  • Hedgehogs are irresistibly cute!

The Friend Ship

Written by Kat Yeh | Illustrated by Chuck Groenink


Little Hedgehog was curled up in a ball of loneliness when she heard someone say that “friendship is out there” if only she would look for it. Hedgehog jumped up ready to search for the Friend Ship that she imagines is full of future buddies. Just as she pounded the last nail into the boat she built to sail the seas, a beaver approached and asked what she is doing. When he found out, he asked to come along because he, too, wants a friend.

Soon they spied a herd of migrating deer atop a cliff and inquired if they had seen the Friend Ship. The deer looked at one another and suddenly missed their pal Irving, so they climbed on board to look for him. Their boat sailed past a little rat fishing all alone. The rat had not seen the Friend Ship either, but asked, “‘pretty please with stinky cheese, can I come?’” “‘Oh, yes!’ said Hedgehog. ‘Double yes!’ said the beaver. ‘Yes!’ ‘Yes!’ ‘Yes!’ ‘Yes-yessity-yes!’ said the deer.”


Image copyright Chuck Groenink, text copyright Kat Yeh. Courtesy of Disney-Hyperion

They sailed into frigid northern seas, into turbulent southern seas, and “East straight into the sunrise,” but while the intrepid explorers never found the Friend Ship, they discovered plenty of extra travelers who wanted to come along. After a few days, Hedgehog despaired of ever finding what she was looking for. She once more felt like curling up into a prickly ball. “Everyone gathered around her. ‘Don’t give up!’ said the beaver.’” And the others agreed, telling Hedgehog that they would stick with her and that she could count on them.

Cheered by these good wishes, Hedgehog resolved to go on. Within view was a tiny island where a single elephant lived. Hedgehog swam closer and called out, “‘Excuse me. Have you seen the Friend Ship?’” The elephant looked a little confused. “‘The Friend Ship!’” she said. “‘Isn’t that it—right over there?’” Hedgehog turned excitedly to see, but “then sighed. ‘Oh, no. That’s just my…’” Suddenly, in the glow of the sunset she realized… “‘We haven’t tried sailing WEST yet!’” Everyone cheered, knowing that there was still hope. “West! West! West!” they chanted as elephant joined them, and they set sail once again on their journey that in the end brought each and every one of them new friends.

Kat Yeh’s sweet story will cheer kids who feel at sea when looking for new friends. Through Yeh’s multi-layered tale, readers will see that there are many kids “in the same boat,” and that inviting them along on adventures big and small will forge the friendships they are searching for. As Hedgehog’s ship begins to fill with passengers, kids will realize what Hedgehog and her travelers fail to notice and enjoy the suspense that leads up to the final giggle-inducing misunderstanding.

The adorable animals in Chuck Groenink’s beautiful illustrations give The Friend Ship an immediately joyful and upbeat tone that is carried out through the glowing colors, the celebratory welcome each new passenger receives, and the empathy and camaraderie the travelers show Hedgehog when she begins to lose hope. As The Friend Ship sails off into the sunset, readers will happily know that the characters have all found what they were searching for.

The message that children have the power to initiate changes in their life instead of relying on someone else makes The Friend Ship a great book for classroom libraries and home bookshelves.

Ages 4 – 10

Disney-Hyperion, 2016 | ISBN 978-1484707265

Discover more books by Kat Yeh as well as videos and other extras on her website!

You’ll find a gallery of books and illustration work by Chuck Groenink on his website!

Hedgehog Day Activity


Hedgie and Buddy Coloring Page


These two pals have found a new friend! Grab your colored pencils or crayons and give their world some color! You can download the printable Hedgie and Buddy Coloring Page here!

Picture Book Review