Grateful American Kids

We the People: The Story of Our Constitution

by Lynne Cheney

“I am mortified beyond expression when I view the clouds which have spread over the brightest morn that ever dawned upon any country.” — George Washington

America had won the Revolution, but our troubles were far from over. The thirteen states were squabbling, the country could not pay its bills, and in Massachusetts farmers had taken up arms against the government. Was our country, which had fought so hard for its independence, going to survive?

In May 1787 delegates from across the country—including George Washington, James Madison, and Benjamin Franklin—gathered in Philadelphia and, meeting over the course of a sweltering summer, created a new framework for governing: the Constitution of the United States.

Their efforts turned a shaky alliance of states into a nation that would prosper and grow powerful, drawing its strength for centuries to come from “We the people” and inspiring hope for freedom around the world.

Now in paperback for the first time, this richly illustrated tale of a crucial point in our nation’s history will enthrall readers young and old.

Why do we love this book?

Grace, Ann Blanche Smith School, Hillsdale, NJ: In clear, cogent prose, Cheney lays out the tumultuous situation of the country at the end of the Revolutionary War. She moves on to the gathering of the representatives at the convention and colorfully describes the various issues and arguments that had to be resolved before the Constitution could be written. The vocabulary is rich, and the author incorporates fascinating details about the personalities who undertook this monumental task. The text is placed on clean white space on a quarter of each spread, with a quote from one of the historical figures at the bottom. The remaining three quarters of the spread is given to Harlin’s impressive artwork, described as being done in “various water media.”

The sweep of these realistic paintings across the pages highlights the drama of each situation, and the artist makes remarkable use of perspective, making readers feel as though they are part of the actual scene. A delight for history buffs, perfect for reports, and a good read in general, this well-researched offering should be a first purchase for most libraries.

About Lynne Cheney is the author of the New York Times bestsellers America: A Patriotic PrimerA Is for Abigail: An Almanac of Amazing American WomenWhen Washington Crossed the Delaware: A Wintertime Story for Young PatriotsA Time for Freedom: What Happened When in America, and Our 50 States: A Family Adventure Across America. With a Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin, she is a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and a former chair of the National Endowment for the Humanities. She and her husband, former Vice President Richard B. Cheney, have two daughters and six grandchildren.

About Greg Harlin is an acclaimed artist and illustrator. His books for children include Dangerous CrossingPaul Revere’s Midnight RideMississippi, and Hanukkah at Valley Forge, winner of the 2007 Sydney Taylor Book Award. He has spent much of his twenty-eight working years recreating history through his paintings. His work has appeared in many national magazines, including National Geographic, National Park Service publications, and Kids Discover magazine, and has received award recognition from the Society of Illustrators and American Illustration, among other entities. He lives in Annapolis, Maryland.

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