SHH! WE'RE WRITING THE CONSTITUTION

No one writes history for children better than the latest Wilder Award winner; funny, pungent and impeccably accurate, her contribution to the plethora of books written for the Constitution's bicentennial should be at the top of everyone's purchase list. Assembling attention-grabbing tidbits that illuminate personalities (Franklin observed that if the President's term wasn't limited there'd be no way to get rid of him short of shooting him) re-create conditions in the 18th century (delegates sweltered as windows were kept shut during a heat wave to keep out noise and flies), and give an excellent feel for the kind of horse-trading that was required before an acceptable document was produced (it took 60 ballots just to settle on the Electoral College). Fritz surveys the background that made some kind of unity necessary (during the Revolution, when Washington asked some New Jersey soldiers to swear allegiance to the US, they turned him down flat), as well as events from the gathering of delegates (they trickled in from May to August) to the adoption of the Constitution by the states. She summarizes important features of the Constitution, especially the checks and balances it embodies, and the argumentative response that delayed ratification. A few amplifying notes and the text of the Constitution (as sent to Congress on September 18, 1787) are appended. Lively and fascinating, this will be a delightful surprise to any child who stumbles on it as part of an assignment; it is sure to open minds to the interest and relevance of history.

Pub Date: April 23, 1987

ISBN: 0698116240

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Oct. 26, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1987

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A larger-than-life subject is neatly captured in text and images.

THURGOOD

The life journey of the first African American to serve on the United States Supreme Court and the incidents that formed him.

Thurgood Marshall grew up in segregated Baltimore, Maryland, with a family that encouraged him to stand for justice. Despite attending poor schools, he found a way to succeed. His father instilled in him a love of the law and encouraged him to argue like a lawyer during dinner conversations. His success in college meant he could go to law school, but the University of Maryland did not accept African American students. Instead, Marshall went to historically black Howard University, where he was mentored by civil rights lawyer Charles Houston. Marshall’s first major legal case was against the law school that denied him a place, and his success brought him to the attention of the NAACP and ultimately led to his work on the groundbreaking Brown v. Board of Education, which itself led to his appointment to the Supreme Court. This lively narrative serves as an introduction to the life of one of the country’s important civil rights figures. Important facts in Marshall’s life are effectively highlighted in an almost staccato fashion. The bold watercolor-and-collage illustrations, beginning with an enticing cover, capture and enhance the strong tone set by the words.

A larger-than-life subject is neatly captured in text and images. (author’s note, photos) (Picture book/biography. 5-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6533-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: June 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

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A breezy, bustling bucketful of courageous acts and eye-popping feats.

50 IMPRESSIVE KIDS AND THEIR AMAZING (AND TRUE!) STORIES

From the They Did What? series

Why should grown-ups get all the historical, scientific, athletic, cinematic, and artistic glory?

Choosing exemplars from both past and present, Mitchell includes but goes well beyond Alexander the Great, Anne Frank, and like usual suspects to introduce a host of lesser-known luminaries. These include Shapur II, who was formally crowned king of Persia before he was born, Indian dancer/professional architect Sheila Sri Prakash, transgender spokesperson Jazz Jennings, inventor Param Jaggi, and an international host of other teen or preteen activists and prodigies. The individual portraits range from one paragraph to several pages in length, and they are interspersed with group tributes to, for instance, the Nazi-resisting “Swingkinder,” the striking New York City newsboys, and the marchers of the Birmingham Children’s Crusade. Mitchell even offers would-be villains a role model in Elagabalus, “boy emperor of Rome,” though she notes that he, at least, came to an awful end: “Then, then! They dumped his remains in the Tiber River, to be nommed by fish for all eternity.” The entries are arranged in no evident order, and though the backmatter includes multiple booklists, a personality quiz, a glossary, and even a quick Braille primer (with Braille jokes to decode), there is no index. Still, for readers whose fires need lighting, there’s motivational kindling on nearly every page.

A breezy, bustling bucketful of courageous acts and eye-popping feats. (finished illustrations not seen) (Collective biography. 10-13)

Pub Date: May 10, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-14-751813-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Puffin

Review Posted Online: Nov. 11, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2015

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