"A picture is worth a thousand words."
First-time author and Elgin resident, Mike Person, strongly believes in the adage, and applied that concept in his book, "With Malice Toward One," which tells the story of events leading up to the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln.
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His unanticipated journey to become an author began the day he volunteered to speak at his wife, Kristi's, fifth grade class at Centennial Elementary School in Bartlett. She had given him a sheet containing information the school district requires teachers to pass on to their students: "Booth shot Lincoln at Ford's theater."
An avid reader and lover of history, Mike expanded on the story behind the assassination, including the kidnapping plot, those involved, the trial, and the manhunt for Booth. He said the class loved it, and he was shocked to learn this was the first time they had heard any of the actual details.
After the class, he complained to his wife about how little gets taught on this subject, so Kristi issued him a challenge to write a book for children. As Mike said, "It was a 'put up or shut up' moment."
Accepting the challenge, the 40-year-old father of three set out to create a book for his wife's classroom.
"When I was growing up, I loved reading the classics in comic book form, which I truly believe made me a lover of books. I felt that the best way to get children interested, is by putting a picture in their mind. Children are visual and I believe they learn much more when they can visualize what they are reading," he said.
The inspiration for the writing style, was derived from one of his treasured books, Dante's Inferno from "The Divine Comedy."
"The left hand pages were written in Italian and the right side translated into English," Mike said. "I decided to write a book using a similar method. The left side would be for the prose and the right would be illustrated in comic-book fashion."
Besides researching and writing the text, he created and drew all of the illustrations for the book.
"I believe that the lower level students will gravitate to the comic book portion and get their history while the upper level readers will take in the easy-to-read condensed text on the left," he said.
Mike originally made his project into book form for his wife's class. He said it was so well received by students and teachers at the school and by his family, that he was encouraged to try to have it published.
He took the next step and self-published it through Amazon so family and friends along with his three sons -- Michael, 8; Jack, 6; and Max, 4, could have it in book form.
Mike, who works as a fiber technician at Abbott Labs, said he hopes his book will inspire children to learn about this important part of American history and develop a love for reading.