Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

The Signers: The 56 Stories behind the Declaration of Independence

The Signers: The 56 Stories behind the Declaration of Independence

Dennis Brindell Fradin
Illustrator:  Michael McCurdy 
For ages 14 to and up
Walker, 2003   ISBN: 978-0802788498

There can be no doubt that when the words of the Declaration of Independence were read out loud to the people for the first time, many of those who were listening must have been astonished and perhaps even shocked. No one had ever written anything quite like it before and it expressed so perfectly how the people of America felt. It also made clear that Americans were no longer willing to be governed by the English crown. The fifty-six men who signed the document were therefore, in the eyes of the English, committing treason. Who were these men and why did they risk their lives in this way. Why was signing the document so important to them?

In this very special book we will come to know these men. They are divided up by state, grouped with their fellow delegates - their neighbors and friends. We begin our journey of discovery in Massachusetts. This state, the third largest in the colony, had five signatories one of which was the famous Samuel Adams. Another was John Hancock who was the first person to sign the Declaration. John Hancock made the conscious decision to write his name in large letters to show his fellow Americans that he was not afraid of the English and their threats.

Next is Virginia with seven signatories. Thomas Jefferson was the man who was given “the honor of creating the Declaration of Independence,” a task which he worked on diligently and to such great effect. Benjamin Harrison would become the father of one president and the great-grandfather of another. He told John Adams, another signatory, that he would have walked two hundred miles to the 1774 Philadelphia Congress if he had had to.

From state to state we travel meeting these extraordinary men and discovering what they were like, what they did with their lives, and why they gave so much to add their names to the Declaration.

Superbly written, and illustrated with unique black and white woodcuts, this book will end up giving the reader a fascinating overall view of the revolutionary years and of the men who gave the struggle direction and strength.