Posted by: Kathy Temean | September 21, 2021

Book Giveaway: TAD LINCOLN’S RESTLESS WRIGGLE: Pandemonium and Patience in the President’s House by Beth Anderson

Author Beth Anderson has a new picture book, “TAD LINCOLN’S RESTLESS WRIGGLE: Pandemonium and Patience in the President’s House, illustrated by S.D. Schindler and published by Calkins Creek. Beth is giving away a copy to one lucky winner in the US.

All you have to do to get in the running is leave a comment. Reblog, tweet, or talk about it on Facebook with a link and you will get additional chances to win. Just let me know other things you do to share the good news, so I can put the right amount of tickets in my basket for you. Sharing on Facebook, Twitter or reblogging really helps spread the word for a new book. So, thanks for helping people know about Beth and SD’s new book.

If you have signed up to follow my blog and it’s delivered to you everyday, please let me know when you leave a comment and I will give you an extra ticket. Thanks!


Tad Lincoln’s Restless Wriggle: Pandemonium and Patience in the President’s House

Tad Lincoln’s restless wriggle just wouldn’t quit, much to the delight of his father, President Abraham Lincoln—if not so much to anybody else! This picture book brings to life the famous first son who coped with a disability and other challenges while showing compassion, intelligence, and wisdom beyond his years.

Tad Lincoln’s boundless energy annoyed almost everyone but his father, President Abraham Lincoln. But Tad put that energy to good use during the tough times of the Civil War. Abraham Lincoln guided Tad’s wriggle on visits to hospitals, to the telegraph office, and to army camps. Tad greeted visitors, raised money for bandages, and kept his father company late into the night. This special and patient bond between father and son was plain to see, and before long, Tad had wriggled his way into the hearts of others as well. Beth Anderson and S.D. Schindler follow Tad’s antics during the Civil War to uncover the generous heart and joyful spirit that powered Tad’s restless wriggle.


My journey with this book began with a boy in the White House and a turkey named Jack. When I learned that young Tad Lincoln was responsible for the first presidential turkey pardon, I began exploring to see if there was a story to tell. Though I’d found an interesting event, when I searched for the “heart” of the story, I struggled. But the endearing and entertaining Tad Lincoln had already wriggled into a corner of my heart. I couldn’t let go. I wanted to know more. About him. And WHY—what motivated that merciful act for the turkey? What was the story behind that story? I dug in. And when I learned that Tad and Abraham Lincoln were each the “saving grace” for the other, that very special idea grabbed me. THAT was the “heart”—the story I wanted to tell. Digging into character and Tad’s experiences allowed me to see the turkey pardon in a new light. There was so much leading to that moment when Tad uses his voice to vouch for the innocence and goodness of the animal. Though I cut much of the turkey pardon story, I was able to put it within the meaningful context of  an incredibly tender and important relationship of father and son at a crucial time in history. The story became larger in scope with a more powerful emotional arc.

All sorts of themes hit me, about unspoken rules and inappropriate behavior. Again I asked WHY. As I learned more about Tad’s behavior and his learning difficulties, the story deepened. This was a boy with a partial cleft palate, learning differences, and boundless energy. The initial opinions I’d encountered of Tad as a “spoiled” child gave way to a better understanding. He was creative and capable, joyous and generous, wise beyond his years and in need of encouragement instead of criticism. For all the so-called “difficult” children I’d had in class over the years, I had to tell his story!

In researching, I found the transformative arc in the events of 1863. Using that year also allowed me to focus the story on Tad and Abe and develop their relationship without getting sidetracked by the myriad of other events before and after. I collected potential scenes, looked for cause and effect relationships and connections, and chose events that would move Tad’s story forward. With a series of scenes and my “heart” thread, I began drafting.

To bring Tad’s character to the page, I pushed from scene to scene with energy, a repeated “racing” path, and an array of vivid verbs. I found a pattern of what teachers would call “I do, we do, you do” in Abe’s guidance and built my arc with that. I tried to see life in the President’s House through ten-year-old Tad’s eyes and his emotional needs. First we see Tad’s unruly behavior, then Abe modeling, and a process of lovingly moving Tad toward sharing his goodness. Tad watches, makes mistakes, and finally finds his voice, surprising those around him with his potential. Throughout the story, Tad’s wriggle showcases his boisterous energy, and the twinkle in Abe’s eyes lets the reader know how much Papa cherishes the joy his son offers. Tad, a child, was the one who gave his father, the President, what he truly needed.

With all that was going on with the Lincoln family and the times, there were multiple challenges in providing enough context without dumping too much information. How much was needed to understand Lincoln’s job during the war? How much need I say about Tad’s partial cleft palate, jumbled words, and unintelligible speech? And so much more. Through lots of trial and error, lots of revising, I worked to weave context into the action and emotional arc of the story. Important details that were cut went to back matter to extend understanding and provide opportunities for curious readers to investigate in the classroom and with parents.

At the suggestion of my agent, the wonderful Stephanie Fretwell-Hill, the final shaping of the story involved framing the story more intentionally around Tad as a differently-abled learner. With that, Tad’s challenges and talents came through more clearly and made the story resonate more strongly. The manuscript was quickly acquired by Carolyn Yoder at Calkins Creek. With her expert guidance, my final revisions trimmed, smoothed, sharpened, and strengthened the story.

TAD was off and running! And S.D. Schindler’s illustrations brought the story to life with humor, tenderness, and fabulous details! On October 5th, Tad Lincoln’s Restless Wriggle gets loose, and here’s to hoping he wriggles his way into your heart, too!


Beth Anderson has always been fascinated with words and language. After earning a B.A. in linguistics and a M. Ed. in reading, she taught English as a Second Language for more than 20 years. Surrounded by young people from all over the world, with literature as her favorite tool, Beth experienced the power of books to teach, connect, and inspire.

From the start, with poems, plays, and puppet shows, Beth’s elementary teachers encouraged her to write. With stories, memoir pieces, and research papers, she continued to mold words into text. Her itch to write followed her through Illinois, Wisconsin, Ohio, Connecticut, Georgia, Texas, and into Colorado. In 2013, she began writing for children. Combining her love of writing with the joys of discovery and learning, she found her niche with narrative nonfiction and historical fiction picture books.

To Beth, writing is mining. It’s digging deep inside for special memories, emotions, and meaning. It’s burrowing into history for inspiring characters and moments that change the course of events. It’s delving into the how and why and what if and seeing how the past relates to where we are today. Then the search for just the right words begins—words that will create voice, bring characters to life, and reveal the heart of the story.

When she’s not writing, Beth might be weaving, gardening, exploring nature, or playing with her grandkids. Born and raised in Illinois, she now lives near the mountains in Colorado. Beth believes in laughter, learning, and…though we can’t change history, history can change us.
You can learn more about Beth Anderson’s writing journey, read posts from other kid lit people, and get book recommendations at her website:

Beth Anderson, a former English as a Second Language teacher, has always marveled at the power of books. With linguistics and reading degrees, a fascination with language, and a penchant for untold tales, she strives for accidental learning in the midst of a great story. Beth lives in Loveland, Colorado where she laughs, ponders, and questions; and hopes to inspire kids to do the same. She’s the award-winning author of “Smelly” Kelly and His Super SensesLizzie Demands a Seat!, and An Inconvenient Alphabet. Beth has more historical gems on the way.


S.D. Schindler embraces the inventive spirit every time he illustrates a book–and he has illustrated many! An award-winning and best-selling illustrator, his recent titles include: We’re Going on a Ghost Hunt by Susan Pearson, Hornbooks and Inkwells by Verla Kay, and The Unforgettable Season by Phil Bildner. His books have won a Parents’ Choice Award for Illustration, a Smithsonian Award for outstanding natural history title, and a Best Book selection by School Library Journal. Visit:

Beth, thank you for sharing your book and journey with us. And thank you for writing a book that let’s us see Abe Lincoln with his son. I didn’t know Tad Lincoln was responsible for the first pardoned turkey at the White House. I’m so happy to read about Tad and the joy he brought his father. Nice to know President Lincoln had someone who took his mind off the problems of the world. SD’s illustrations seem perfect for this story. Good Luck with the book!

Talk tomorrow,



  1. Congratulations, Beth! This sounds like an interesting piece of history. I can’t wait to read it. Shared on Twitter. I receive the daily blog post through email.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What a wonderful bit of history to focus this book on. I will be looking for this one. It looks terrific. I tweeted and I receive your blog by email,

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’d love to win this book! Lincoln is a favorite of mine! Thanks for sharing this on your blog.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for stopping by, Susan! I’m fascinated with Lincoln!


  4. Congratulations, Beth! Looks like you’ve got another wonderful book!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Laura! I’m sure you’ve got a few “Tads” tucked away in your heart, too!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Hooray, a new book by Beth Anderson! The heart of this story sounds wonderful – one that is heartfelt and needs to be told. Can’t wait to read it!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Another winner by Beth Anderson! I love all of Beth’s books, and I’m always excited to read about how she finds and crafts these wonderful stories! I shared this, and I’m a follower of your blog. Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. This is new history to me and I enjoyed learning how this talented author found the heart of her story. I’m a fan of Abe Lincoln and now can’t wait to get to know him as a loving father too. I’m an email subscriber and shared:

    Liked by 1 person

  8. No need to enter my name – just wanted to say it has been. A joy to watch this book come to life! Brava, Beth and S.D.!


    • Thanks, Julie, for taking me in and encouraging me on this journey – wow! can’t believe it’s been almost 8 years!


  9. Beth is brilliant!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. It’s always a joy when a new book by Beth Anderson launches! I was lucky enough to see early versions of this story – and what impresses me each time is how deeply Beth researches…and revises…as the writing journeys for her books unfold. The illustrations by S.D. Schindler are an absolutely perfect marriage with Beth’s text – and I can’t wait to add this book to my picture book library.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks much, Vivian! I love being on this book journey with people like you!

      Liked by 1 person

  11. I was so lucky to have an advance look at this and interview with Beth for my blog, but this exploration is a masterful expansion that I truly enjoyed. The book is such an entertaining and heart-expanding offering! Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Thanks for sharing the story of how you crafted this book. Look forward to reading it.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Love how you found your story! Great idea and I look forward to reading it!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I love finding out how you shaped the story, and am looking forward to reading this book! Congrats, Beth!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Beth, I’m so excited to read this book! Growing up in Lincoln, IL, all things about Lincoln are close to my heart. Congratulations!

    I’m an email subscriber and share this post on Twitter.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. The interview was wonderful! Thanks for sharing so much about your book, Beth, and congratulations! I posted this blog on Twitter and retweeted your post. I look forward to reading your new book!

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Beth, your books are always fabulous! Thank you for sharing the process of compiling the information and writing this story. I look forward to reading it!

    Kathy I shared on twitter and get your blog daily.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. I can’t wait to read this book! Congratulations, Beth!!

    Liked by 2 people

  19. What a great book! Congratulations, Beth!

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Oh, this sounds so good! I love reading about historical figures in new ways. Congratulations, Beth!

    I follow by email and I tweeted this post, Kathy.

    Liked by 1 person

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