When pondering the Declaration of Independence, many readers get as far as "When in the course of human events..." before their eyes glaze over. But when author-illustrator Sam Fink took the time to read the document, he was so impressed, he decided to do what he could to make it more accessible to everyone. By dividing the text into short phrases, hand lettering the words on one page, and illustrating the ideas expressed on the facing page, Fink succeeded marvelously in his goal. His scratchy, historically accurate illustrations are compelling (and often witty) in their representation of the Declaration's significance. In one spread, the text reads "The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States." On the facing page, a grumpy King George stands over a dictionary opened to a definition of tyrant, pointing to the word and saying, "THAT'S ME!" and "I am also a usurper." A complete version of the Declaration of Independence follows the illustrated portion of the book, as well as a chronology of events, a glossary of terms (such as "usurpations"), and a selected bibliography. A fabulously readable surprise! (Ages 10 and older) --Emilie Coulter
From Publishers Weekly
Infused with humor and a contagious patriotism, newcomer Fink's visual interpretation of the Declaration of Independence will help youngsters read between the sometimes puzzling lines of this monumental document. Fink breaks up this fervent, articulate proclamation into brief, elegantly hand-lettered phrases, which he pairs with etching-like artwork that evokes the period of the document s authorship and elucidates the words meaning. As the Declaration specifies the colonists grievances against King George III, the comically hyperbolic cross-hatch illustrations depict inventive symbols for the despised British rule and a range of comical parodies of the monarch. Opposite the statement He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records is a picture of an elaborate maze, with a building atop a steep cliff at its center and a caption that reads, Enter here to get to the King s meeting place. On a spread declaring that the king is a Tyrant,... unfit to be the ruler of a free people, Fink shows an empty throne with a sign announcing Be back soon. Gone to Class in Advanced Tyranny! Geo III. And with playful anachronism, the illustrator shows Patrick Henry holding a contemporary New Hampshire license plate (bearing the slogan Live Free or Die and the tag number 1776) opposite the assertion that these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States. This clever and inspiring volume concludes with a glossary and chronology of events leading up to the drafting of the Declaration. Ages 10-up.
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