Reading Between the Ropes: Abraham Lincoln, Pro Wrestler

Prologue: Welcome (back) to Reading Between the Ropes.

Remember the last time I tried to do this? No, well that’s probably for the best. It was a terribly complicated mess that was too clever by half, and then about 7 times more than that. And in attempting to write another the next month, I realized that parents who work full time and are in grad school don’t have time to read wrestling books and write about them online, and I let the whole thing drop. Until I was processing new books at the library where I work and came across this book here. I’ve graduated now, why not give this another shot. So here’s my 2.0 attempt at pro wrestling related book reviews, starting with Abraham Lincoln, Pro Wrestler.

The Build: This is the first book in an early chapter book series by Steve Sheinkin. He has written quite a few books prior to this, but they all fell quite distinctly on the nonfiction side of things. This makes sense as it’s clear that Mr. Sheinkin is far more adept at handling the Abraham Lincoln half of the equation than he is the Pro Wrestling portion.

The Pro Wrestling portion does relate somewhat to Abraham Lincoln, however. The notes in the back reference the fact that our 16th president is in the National Wrestling Hall of Fame. It’s for amateur wrestling, but still. Apparently, several other presidents are also enshrined, but Lincoln is the only one who engaged primarily in the catch wrestling style while the other early presidents who engaged in wrestling preferred the more structured "collar and elbow" style.

The Main Event: This book sets up the Time Twisters series, which centers around step-siblings Abby and Doc who are in the same class. Their grade and the type of school isn’t clearly mentioned in a way I remember, but the dedication thanks a second grade class for providing story ideas and that’s a pretty believable age for the characters. Abby and Doc, along with their classmates, think that history is boring, which ticks off all the people who are featured in that history, and they choose to rebel.

In this universe it appears that historical figures are aware that they are in in history books, pay attention to the reactions of the student’s learning about them, and can even talk with other historical figures featured in these history books even if they are from different time periods. And the historical figures I tired of hearing students say their lives are boring.

Abraham Lincoln reacts to this in two ways. First, he decides to quit doing history. The student’s open up their history book, and instead of the text about him preparing for his election and becoming president, it’s just him sitting around reading newspapers, playing handball, and visiting the outhouse. Second, he travels to Abby and Doc’s school via a magic time portal in a cardboard box in the storage room. This leads to parallel stories taking place in 1860 during the week before Lincoln’s election and modern day where Abby and Doc try to convince Lincoln that they won’t think history is boring anymore and Lincoln should get back to being an important person in our country’s history. Both the class’s history textbooks and one of the history channels on tv somehow have a live feed into the events taking place in 1860 so everyone can see how Lincoln’s inaction is messing with what was supposed to be.

While I haven’t mentioned it yet, Pro Wrestling does play a significant role in the book. The modern day climax takes place during a professional wrestling event at Abby and Doc’s school. Lincoln, who has come to the present through the time portal, attends the event and doesn’t realize that it is supposed to be a work so he tries to break up the fight, then gets into a shoot fight with one of the sports entertainers before he is finally convinced to return to his own time and be historical. This creates a sort of interesting scene, but examining it too closely shows a lot of holes in the author’s understanding of professional wrestling.

This is very much an indie show, taking place in the school’s gymnasium/cafeteria/auditorium room. It is also supposed to be a fundraiser for the school. However, all the students know the wrestlers being advertised for the show (Gigantic Phil and Al "The Alligator" Albertson). So either there are a lot of parents who are cool with taking their kids to local indie wrestling shows on a regular basis, or we are supposed to believe these are televised wrestlers who are appearing in the multipurpose hall at an elementary school out of the goodness of their hearts (no way the school raises enough money to cover their appearance fees otherwise). Furthermore, Lincoln interrupts the match between the advertised wrestlers, but they make it clear that additional matches take place after that, so the advertised match everyone was excited about isn’t even the main event.

Reactions and Star Rating: 2.5 stars

Overall, the series is targeted to kids ages 7-10 and doesn’t elevate itself beyond that. If you have a second or third grader who loves wrestling but struggles in social studies, this is intended to be a sneaky way to introduce the story of Abraham Lincoln (and other historical figures in future books) and it works fine for that. If you don’t have a kid that age, it’s not something you need to trouble yourself with.

Epilogue: Well, this was a weird one to come back on, but I guess that’s how it goes. I’m going to try and keep momentum by doing another short one for a picture book I’ve seen at the library, then I’ll swing back to the Daniel Brian memoir Yes! I had promised almost a year ago.

Happy reading, everybody!

The FanPosts are solely the subjective opinions of Cageside Seats readers and do not necessarily reflect the views of Cageside Seats editors or staff.