Reviews for Signers : The Fifty-Six Stories Behind the Declaration of Independence


Booklist Monthly Selections - #1 December 2002
Gr. 4-7. This collective biography introduces the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence. Fradin begins by explaining how the document was written, approved, and signed. Each of the following 13 chapters offers a short history of one colony, followed by a two- or three-page section on the native son who signed the document. In support of that document, the signers pledged "to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor." Some signers, such as Jefferson and Adams, rose to great renown; others paid a heavy price for their loyalty to the patriot cause. These short, cogent biographies illuminate the people and the stories behind the signatures. Including a cameo portrait and a scene from each man's life, McCurdy's excellent scratchboard artwork gives a sense of the period as well as a particular person. This well-designed book is an asset to American history collections. Bibliography appended. ((Reviewed December 1, 2002)) Copyright 2002 Booklist Reviews

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Horn Book Guide Reviews 2003 Spring
Quietly dignified, with stately black-and-white illustrations, the format of this impressive volume reflects its subject. A brief essay introduces each state, followed by short presentations on the state's delegates, each featuring a cameo-like portrait and an interpretive vignette. A reproduction of the original document and a printed version are included in this thoughtfully conceived and well-executed book. Bib., ind. Copyright 2003 Horn Book Guide Reviews

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Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2003 #1
Quietly dignified, with stately black-and-white illustrations, the format of this impressive volume reflects its subject. While we all know some of the signers of the Declaration, few of us are acquainted with them all. Fradin focuses on those redoubtable men who risked their lives, futures, and fortunes to guarantee future generations the luxury of independence. A brief essay introduces each state, followed by short presentations on the stateÆs delegates, each featuring two illustrations-one a cameo-like portrait, the other an interpretive vignette. Franklin, for example, is perusing a manuscript against an interior background that includes a printing press and a window through which a flash of lightning is visible. This uniformity of format makes the contents easy to use and understand. A reproduction of the original document and a printed version are included, as well as an afterword indicating historical highlights of the years following the signing and an illustratorÆs note. A substantial bibliography and an index round out a thoughtfully conceived and well-executed book. Copyright 2003 Horn Book Magazine Reviews

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Kirkus Reviews 2002 November #1
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal." It's the most famous line in our most famous political document, neatly expressing what our country stands for. The Declaration of Independence has been called "the nation's birth certificate" and, as our manifesto of liberty, has warranted many fine studies; this is another. Fifty-six short biographies tell the stories behind the document. Each biography starts with a lively lead sure to lure readers into each story. It's a volume fun to browse, encouraging dipping in at will and looking for interesting anecdotes. Who was the youngest signer? The oldest? Who signed both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution? Which signer had a niece more famous than he? Which signer do some historians consider the first president of the United States? The choice of font and the scratchboard illustrations lend a feeling of authenticity, as if the text is straight from a colonial newspaper. The volume is nicely organized, with an introduction providing the historical context for the biographies that follow and the afterword tracing the role of the document in subsequent American history. Fradin (Who Was Ben Franklin?, 2002, etc.) reminds readers of two misconceptions about the Declaration: July 2, 1776, was the day independence was voted on and should be the day we celebrate; July 4th was simply the day the document was adopted. Also, contrary to what most Americans think, the document was not signed by most members until later in August, not in a ceremony on July 4th. The volume, quite similar to Fink's out-of-print The Fifty-Six Who Signed, will be a great resource for students doing research, though the bibliography only contains works for adult readers and not many recent works. This will be a fine match with Freedman's Give Me Liberty! (2000) (maps, illustrator's note, index) (Nonfiction. 10+ ) Copyright Kirkus 2002 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 2002 December #2
The Signers: The 56 Stories Behind the Declaration of Independence by Dennis Brindell Fradin, with Michael McCurdy's signature scratchboard illustrations, profiles the 56 men who made the document. The handsomely designed volume organizes the brief biographies by colony, showing its territory at the time of the signing, and lists the names of the men hailing from each, along with their vital statistics (birth and death dates, wife, children, age at signing, etc.). A reproduction of the original Declaration, alongside a transcript that's easier on the eyes, draws the presentation to a close.

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School Library Journal Reviews 2002 November
Gr 4-6-Most children may know that John Hancock signed the Declaration of Independence, but do they know about the other 55 signers? Each of these men had a life before, during, and after his historical act, yet most of them are unknown. Fradin gives brief, fascinating glimpses into the people who have been overlooked as well as those with whom readers might be familiar. This well-organized book is divided into 13 sections-one for each of the colonies. Each section begins with a brief history of the colony, including its industries, population, and notable persons during the years leading up to and during the American Revolution. A map and a chart listing the vital statistics of the signers complete the introduction to each chapter. Next, information about their backgrounds, their contributions to America's independence, and their lives after signing the Declaration is presented. None of the primary facts or dates has been neglected, yet the lively style of the text maintains readers' interest. The full text of the document is included. The black-and-white scratchboard illustrations are rough and rather crude, and reinforce the historical tone of the text. An excellent resource for report writing.-Heather E. Miller, Homewood Public Library, AL Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.

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VOYA Reviews 2003 February
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal. These words reflect the patriotic spirit behind the Declaration of Independence, a document that Abraham Lincoln termed the United States' birth certificate. Although many books have been written on this subject, the newest from prolific author Fradin focuses on the men who signed the document, those who first voted for independence and began the revolution. An introduction and afterword with an overview of the Declaration and the role of freedom in America neatly frame this book, which is divided into thirteen sections, each one representing one of the original colonies. Each section provides a summary of the colony's development, its location, and a brief but interesting biographical sketch of each signer from that colony. The details offer fascinating insights into the lives of both well-known and obscure people, from their gambling debts and debtor's prison to murderous nephews and alcohol problems. Unique woodcuts and the full text of the document round out this accessible and informative work. Students who need biographical information about America's founding fathers or those with a general interest in history will find this book engaging and educational. It is an excellent addition to both school and public library collections.-Blayne Tuttle Borden. PLB $23.85. ISBN 0-8027-8850-5. Index. Illus. Maps. Biblio. 4Q 2P M J S Copyright 2003 Voya Reviews

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