As part of The Schoolhouse Review Crew, I received a copy of Abraham’s Journey: A Celebration of the American Dream from Inspiring the American Dream to review. Abraham’s Journey sells for $14.99 their website. A high price, I think, for a book just over 30 pages long.
Abraham’s Journey, written for ages 7-12, tells the story of a young boy whose parents are trying to live the American Dream. Like so many other people during the Great Recession, however, Abraham’s parents lost their jobs. The story starts with this information, and the parents telling the kids that they wouldn’t have any money for Christmas gifts that year.
Abraham is upset, and goes to his room to think of ways he can save Christmas for his family. While he texts his friends on his smart phone, he starts searching online for odd jobs to earn money. During his search, Abraham Lincoln appears on his screen, saying “I’m here to help you.” He extends his hand out to young Abraham, and they are transported into digital world. While in this digital world, the two Abrahams travel around to visit a variety of successful Americans, Martin Luther King, Jr., Amelia Earhart, Norman Rockwell, Mark Zukerberg, and Bill and Melinda Gates.
Meeting these 5 great Americans helps young Abraham find his special talent so he can achieve his American dream. The story ends on Christmas day, after Abraham has used his talent to paint pictures to sell. He uses this money to buy Christmas presents for his family. When he hands out the presents he bought, his father questions him as to where he got the money to buy gifts. So Abraham tells his family the story of his journey, his paintings,and what he learned about living the American dream. His family is inspired with his story, and go out to visit a homeless shelter bringing donations that young Abraham earned.
“By being Creative and determined, Abraham preserved his parent’s American dream for their family. Through his faith, compassion, and charity, he was able to share that dream with others!” – the last two lines of the book
Included in the back of the book are one paragraph biographies of the famous people mentioned in the back of the book. There is also a half of a page of Definition of Terms used in the book- The American Dream, charity, compassion, courage, faith, friendship, imagination, innovation, personal responsibility, self reliance, social media, wisdom.
I find it odd that “The Great Recession” is not included in this list since that term is referrenced in the first paragraph of the book, and the story is set in that time period. Yet, they included the word faith in the definitions, when the only place it used in the book is in the sentence I quoted above. I think by using Christmas in the story line, and the word faith, the authors are trying to make the book appealing to Christians. However, this is very much a secular book. The definition they give of faith is: “belief without proof in a positive outcome; belief in a spiritual entity greater than oneself.” In their defense, the authors make no claims to this being a faith based book. I had my 12 year old, 6th grade son read this book first, then I read it. When he finished I asked him how he liked it, he said, “Okay, but why does he have a cell phone?” After every question I asked him about the book, he would go back to the fact that this young boy had a cell phone, and not just any cell phone, but a smart phone that can go online. After I read the book for myself, I could see his point. Why does the boy have a smart phone? His parents have lost their jobs and have no money coming in, yet the young kid gets to keep his expensive cell phone? Teaching children about the American dream, and how they can live it is an admirable goal. However, I think this book misses the mark. It seems to me more emphasis is placed on having Christmas presents than anything else. How much time Abraham spends painting and selling his paintings, working towards his dream isn’t mentioned. Just that he bought Christmas presents. Abraham’s Journey is an entertaining little book. One that many children will enjoy reading. But it could have been so much more. *Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a copy of this book for review purposes. I received no other compensation. I was not required to write a positive review. My opinions are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
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