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The Signers: The 56 Stories Behind the Declaration of Independence Hardcover – January 1, 2003

18 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 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 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

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. Carolyn Phelan
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 10 and up
  • Grade Level: 5 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 1010L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Walker Childrens (January 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802788491
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802788498
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 0.8 x 10.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #751,948 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

"I have the time of my life as a children's author," says Dennis Brindell Fradin, prolific author of close to one hundred and fifty books. "I try not to let a day of the year go by without working." Born and raised in Chicago, Illinois, he earned a creative writing degree from Northwestern University, then taught elementary school for twelve years. In 1989, the National College of Education honored him as the Educator of the Year. He is married to writer Judith Bloom Fradin, who did the photo research on this book. They live in Evanston, Illinois and have three grown children.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

41 of 43 people found the following review helpful By Roz Levine on December 16, 2002
Format: Library Binding
As Dennis Brindell Fradin tells us in his illuminating introduction: "...The signers of the Declaration, rather than those who voted for independence, have long been honored as the nation's founders. That is because, by placing their names on the Declaration, they announced to the world their willingness to risk everything for the cause of independence. The British targeted the fifty-six signers for special punishment. The homes of twelve signers were burned, and nearly twenty of them lost much of what they owned. According to some estimates, nine signers died as a result of hardships they suffered during the Revolution. Yet not one signer changed his stance on independence. All of them kept the promise they had made in the Declaration of Independence-that they would stake their "Lives...Fortunes, and...Sacred Honor" on their country's cause." Meet America's first fifty-six heroes whose belief in independence was so strong, each was willing to risk everything for freedom. Mr Fradin cleverly divides this book into thirteen sections, one for each colony, and begins each chapter by first discussing the background and history of the colony, before detailing the life of each signer. Each fascinating biographical sketch includes details about their lives, both before and after they signed the Declaration, and the contributions each made to America's independence. Mr Fradin's easy to read and intriguing text, engages, and is enhanced by illustrator, Michael McCurdy's evocative artwork. Together, word and art inspires, and brings the stories of these brave men to life on the page. Perfect for youngsters 10 and older, The Signers celebrates the triumph of the human spirit, and includes a readable copy of the Declaration of Independence, an Afterword, Bibliography, and Index to augment lessons and further enlighten. This is non-fiction at its very best, and definitely a living history lesson that shouldn't be missed. "Independence forever!"
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Ashley Robins on December 15, 2003
Format: Hardcover
John Adams thought July 2nd would be the day Americans would celebrate, not the 4th. That is just one detail Fradin and McCurdy bring out. History is so easily made bland, but their work breaks many assumptions apart in an easy to digest way. An important book for students and a good book for adults, with enough information between the lines to keep some of the rebelion alive. History is made not by dates, but by people decidedly taking steps toward multiple goals. I recommend this book.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 11, 2003
Format: Library Binding
Very readable and enlightening story of all the signers of the Declaration. Fradin is a master of choosing just the right details about the lives of these men to bring them alive and interest his readers. It will also strike young people how precarious the lives of women and children were.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By lilmamaof7 on August 21, 2013
Format: Hardcover
This book is recommended for my daughters' home school curriculum. I wanted to check it out before purchasing and was able to do so through our local library. I was sorely disappointed with it.

First, I found the author's style of writing to be lacking in cohesiveness. I have been using the Excellence in Writing series, teaching my children to stick to one subject in a paragraph. This author fails miserably to do so. I want the books we use to be well written examples of what I expect from them. This book wasn't.

My second reason for not liking the book is the author tends to state opinion as fact. One example is the paragraph he wrote about Thomas Jefferson fathering children by his slave. That allegation has never been substantiated one way or the other. The author, whether out of ignorance or wanting to pass his opinion on as fact, states the unproven rumor as fact. Any one who has seriously looked into the matter would know that there is no firm evidence to say that he did or did not have children with Sally Hemmings. The firmest evidence is DNA, and the DNA testing that has been done can only prove that a man related to President Jefferson fathered one of her children. He went so far as to imply how President Jefferson felt ashamed about fathering children by his slave. As far as I know, Jefferson never acknowledged his political enemy's claim of fathering slave children, so how can the author state such feelings as fact?

Also, the author talks about extramarital relationships in the same manner as a death of a signer's parent. He seems to relish bringing up any sexual immorality the signers may have committed. I couldn't bring myself to finish the book, because it was done in such a style of gossip.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on December 15, 2004
Format: Hardcover
This is a good book for a history class because it gives a lot of information on every person who signed the Declaration of Independence. Everyone knows that John Hancock signing the Declaration but what about the others? This book clues you in on everyone and their lives. I gave it four stars because it was good and it had a lot of information.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By M. Heiss on July 29, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
It's interesting -- I have the book from 1848 called "Lives of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence", and this book is very similar. But this book has line sketch illustrations that grab your attention. Roughly two pages of text for each signer, and two illustrations each (on average).

This book does not really capture the bravery of these men as well as the 1848 book did, and its section on Ben Franklin is nowhere near as inspirational.

Still, this book belongs on your child's bookshelf. They can use it as an overview to decide which founder to study next. Also includes the text of the Declaration of Independence, which I am having my kids memorize this year.
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