Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

The Declaration of Independence: The Words that Made America

The Declaration of Independence: The Words that Made America

Illustrator:  Sam Fink 
Nonfiction Picture Book
For ages 9 and up
Scholastic, 2002   ISBN: 978-0439703154

On the seventh of June, 1776, the Second Continental Congress met in Philadelphia and as a result of this meeting it was decided that the thirteen colonies that made up America would declare themselves "free and independent of Britain." To make this declaration official they would have a committee of five men meet to draft a Declaration of Independence. With great care and thought Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman, and Robert Livingston discussed the ideas that they felt should be included in the Declaration and then Thomas Jefferson set about writing this document. The finished Declaration was proclaimed on the 4th of July, 1776.

When one reads the Declaration in its entirety it is not always easy to grasp exactly what its drafters were trying to say because of the language and the way in which the ideas are expressed. To make it more manageable Sam Fink has broken up the document into smaller pieces. He has then added artwork which illustrates the ideas expressed in the text. The result is both fascinating and entertaining, and readers of all ages will find that they better comprehend what Thomas Jefferson was trying say when he sat down to write this amazing document all those years ago. Piece by piece Sam Fink goes through the entire Declaration, with his accompanying artwork helping to show what each piece of text means. His work ends up being both lovely to look at and enlightening.

In addition to his illustrated and inscribed version of the Declaration, Sam Fink also includes an unembellished version of the Declaration. In addition there is a chronology of the events which affected American history, a glossary, a bibliography, a selected resources list, an index, and a very interesting "Illustrator's Note."