Hopefully you enjoyed seeing fuck all of Abraham Lincoln. This time next week we’ll be reading E. L. James’s Gray, which will certainly be an interesting transition from Magic Tree House.
Chapter 10: Readin’ and Writin’
The next step in our story of time traveling to meet Abraham Lincoln is a grammar lesson, because fucking of course it is.
“Okay,” Annie said. “What is a conjunction?”
Sam bit his lip. “Let’s see … a conjunction is a part of speech that joins words and sentences together,” he said. “Some conjunctions are and, but, and because.”
I get that this is a semi-educational children’s book, but there had to be a less contrived way to get some educational content in here.
I can’t even blame Jack for being his usual smartass self about the whole thing:
“Yes, perfect,” said Jack. “Here’s an example: Jack wants to leave, but Annie is ignoring him.”
After the two-page grammar lesson, Sam goes into a Hamlet-sized speech about his love for writing words. Not “writing”, like Ariel and I and your other annoying writer friends talk about their love for writing. For writing words.
“Neither my pa nor my ma ever learned to write. But I love it. I write words in the dust or the sand, even in the snow. I write them in the dirt floor with a stick.” Sam laughed. Jack couldn’t help smiling. “Why, I write on wooden shovels with charcoal!” Sam leaned forward and said in a hushed voice, “But the best thing in the world to write with is my quill pen and my blackberry ink!” Sam’s face glowed in the firelight.
Why did we need his face glowing in the firelight? That’s the most ominous fucking thing. Are we supposed to infer that when Sam grows up, the police will be taking him away after finding the bodies in the basement, with Sam cackling, “But the bestest thing is writing with HUMAN BLOOD. HAIL SATAN. PEACE.”
Jack explains that he, too, loves writing, and Sam explains that he also loves pranks. And then the weirdest thing happens: his dad shows up out of nowhere with a new fucking family.
Suddenly noises came from outside: rumbling and neighing.
“What’s that?” said Annie.
Sam froze. Then he turned to Jack and Annie, his eyes wide. “A wagon!” he said. […] They watched as Sam ran toward the wagon and the driver pulled the horses to a halt. […]
“Son, I want you to meet my wife and your new ma from Kentucky,” Sam’s pa said. “And these are her children and your new sisters and brother, Elizabeth, Matilda, and John.”
Each kid said “howdy” in turn.
No, it’s really fucking weird.
Across the clearing, a girl came running. She wore a black cape with a hood.
“Sarah! My girl!” Sam and Sarah’s father rushed forward and threw his arms around his daughter.
Sarah started sobbing.
Her father hugged her. “Don’t cry, girl,” he said. “I brought you a whole new family.”
As a parting gift, Jack gives Sam his beloved
murder instruments quill and blueberry ink, for “staying by me when I was feeling poorly, and for trying to do my chores”. Jack and Annie point out that they didn’t do a damn thing, but Sam insists, and Jack and Annie are immediately swallowed up by the cursed ground.
“You’re welcome,” said Sam. “And what I was going to tell you is—”
“Yes—” Jack started.
But before Jack could finish, (Uh, what about SAM, who was actually saying something?) a WHOOSH and a ROAR shook the earth, like a speeding train passing by. The ground opened, and Jack felt as if he were falling through space, through a tunnel, down through blackness, into a world of daylight.
Chapter 11: Abe Lincoln At Last!
Guys, we all made fun of the title of this book, thinking “Abe Lincoln at last? What, like all Magic Tree House books were leading up to this moment? Haha”, but, lo, if only we had known.
“Wait, that’s so weird,” said Jack. “We’re looking for a feather, and Sam gives us a pen made out of a feather—”
Just in case you too have completely forgotten what this book was supposed to be about before the kid who learned grammar and then got a new family.
Annie gasped. “Look, Jack!”
She pointed toward the carriageway. A tall man in a dark coat and a high black hat was striding toward the grove of trees. He turned his head, as if he were searching for something.
“At last!” said Jack.
Abraham Lincoln turned and looked in their direction. He froze and stared at them, as if he were both astonished and afraid.
Do spend a brief moment picturing this scene where Abraham Lincoln is terrified of Jack and Annie, I implore you.
“You don’t know who I am?” he said.
“You’re Abraham Lincoln,” said Annie. “President of the United States.”
“Yes, but I spent the day with you once long ago,” said the president. “And you vanished, right before my eyes.”
“We did?” said Annie.
Oh my f- seriously?
Jack helpfully articulates the wonder and magnitude of this moment.
Time and magic were confusing things.
Annie gives Abraham the quill and ink bottle, and the meaning of the riddle dawns on Jack. They write Abraham Lincoln a note about hope and peace, assuring him that the nation will reunite one day, with freedom for everyone.
Chapter 12: The Feather of Hope
Jack and Annie return home with their magical artifacts and bask in the happy ending to their mission.
“Before we go, I want to look in our book and see if there’s a picture of Willie and Tad,” said Annie. […] Annie read for a moment, then she whispered a sad “Oh, no.” She closed the book and put it down. She looked terribly sad.
“What’s wrong? What did you read?” said Jack.
“I just read that Willie died of typhoid fever in 1862,” said Annie.
Well, they were close.