Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Father of the Constitution: A Story about James Madison

Father of the Constitution: A Story about James Madison

Barbara Mitchell
Illustrator:  Alex Tavoularis 
For ages 9 to 12
Lerner, 2004   ISBN: 978-1575051826

Jemmy, as young James Madison Jr. was called, was a very quiet boy who loved more than anything to read books. Luckily he lived in a household that valued reading, thinking and an education. For some years Jemmy went to a school away from home where he had access not only to even more books, but where he also learned Latin and how to develop ideas for himself. The one thing his teachers could not do was to help the boy get over his shyness and help him learn to speak up. Jemmy very rarely spoke and when he did it was in a very soft voice. This would be something that he struggled with all his life.

When he retuned home James was surrounded by people talking about the problems that the colonies were having with the King of England. The Virginians were furious at having to pay taxes on such things as stamps, paper and tea. When James went to college in Princeton he found a group of young who were happy to hear what he had to say about democracy and freedom. James even managed to survive the terrifying ordeal of having to speak in public.

After his education was complete James at first had difficulty trying to decide what he wanted to do but then he determined that what he wanted more than anything was to run for public office. What he wanted to do was to be able to bring about change, to share his ideas, and to help his fellow countrymen define their position and their country. In the end Madison probably did more than he ever expected to. He not only helped to draft the Constitution of the new United States of America but he also became the president of this new nation.

The author of this young reader's biography has not only written an engaging book, but she also goes a long to explain what was happening in the colonies when Madison was coming into his own and finding his political feet. We come to see what Madison and his friends were trying to do and to appreciate the work that they did.