Saturday, October 24, 2009

Readathon: Hour 7: Unite or Die

My eighth book of the Readathon.

Unite or Die: How Thirteen States Became a Nation by Jacqueline Jules

Fun, fun fun. Sure we have heard of the Articles of Confederation and the Virginia Compromise and the New Jersey Plan, but who really remembers much about them? This book could help lots of kids (and adults, on occasion) better understand how our system of government came about.

After the war for independence, there really wasn’t much of a United States of America. There were just thirteen separate states. Problems. One big problem was money. Each state printed its own. States wouldn’t accept the money of other states. And who would fight for these thirteen separate states?

Finally, fifty-five men came together from twelve states (no Rhode Island) to figure things out and the result was the amazing Constitution of the United States. It still works today because of the brilliance and cooperation of those who met together to create this document.

Cold hard facts are the text of this book, but it is the fun illustrations that really explain and expound upon the the subject. It is the illustrations that kept me reading along. Very kid friendly. And for a subject that can be way over the heads of many ten year olds.

An afterword explains the process of the Constitution in detail as does a notes section that expands upon the most complicated parts of the book in a clever question-answer format. The book also includes a web link to the Constitution with an invitation to read the document for oneself and a lengthy bibliography.

Here’s a sample:

‘(text) This wasn’t an easy idea to accept, especially for the small states like New Jersey and Delaware, who were afraid the big states would outvote them in Congress.

(from the cartoon balloons) Pennsylvania: “Sure, the number of delegates will be based on population. What’s wrong with that?”

Delaware: “Everything! If you have more delegates, you’ll have more votes than I do.”

North Carolina: “But you’re not even half my size. Why should you have the same number of votes?”’

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  1. I think illustrations are a great way to get complicated ideas off to younger audiences! This looks like a great read - and I'm glad you're enjoying it.

  2. I loved this book. It was so great I couldn't review it.

  3. Thanks so much for your kind words! I was excited when I saw the illustrations for the first time, too! The book began as a skit I wrote for my students to perform. I never dreamed at the time it would eventually become a book with such clever illustrations of kids putting on a play. I am indebted to Jef Czekaj for bringing my words to life!


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