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Unite or Die Paperback – February 1, 2009

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Unite or Die + We the Kids: The Preamble to the Constitution of the United States + A More Perfect Union: The Story of Our Constitution
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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

In this brightly illustrated picture book, children dressed in chunky, state-shaped costumes act out a play called “Unite or Die,” which dramatizes problems that sprang up after the American Revolution and their resolution at the 1787 Constitutional Convention. Bound only by the Articles of Confederation, the little states begin by bickering about issues such as currency, borders, and trade. At the Constitutional Convention, they hammer away until they have created an entirely new federal government. Though the subject may not seem well-suited to a picture-book format, Jules does a good job of presenting the essential ideas simply, and Czekaj’s droll, cartoon-like illustrations may appeal to some students beyond the primary-grade range. Amusing remarks as well as bits of information are relayed in speech balloons, while on each double-page spread, a few sentences of text introduce the main ideas, as a narrator would. The book concludes with four pages of notes and a bibliography. An original presentation of a pivotal point in U.S. history. Grades 2-4. --Carolyn Phelan --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Jacqueline Jules is the author of several books for children, including ABRAHAM'S SEARCH FOR GOD (Kar-Ben) and THE ZIZ AND THE HANUKKAH MIRACLE (Kar-Ben). Her poetry has been featured in over sixty publications, including Cricket, Cicada, and The Christian Science Monitor. She lives in Arlington, Virginia.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 2 - 7
  • Lexile Measure: 540L (What's this?)
  • Paperback: 48 pages
  • Publisher: Charlesbridge (February 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 158089190X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1580891905
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 0.2 x 11 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #345,728 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By 5thTeach on September 15, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Fun & humorous book used to celebrate Constitution Day. Follow up with the reader's theater (available online) to make more interactive. 5th graders love to act it out!
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Format: Paperback
Fun, fun fun. Sure we have heard of the Articles of Confederation and the Virginia Compromise and the New Jersey Plan, but who really remembers much about them? This book could help lots of kids (and adults, on occasion) better understand how our system of government came about.

After the war for independence, there really wasn't much of a United States of America. There were just thirteen separate states. Problems. One big problem was money. Each state printed its own. States wouldn't accept the money of other states. And who would fight for these thirteen separate states? Finally, fifty-five men came together from twelve states (no Rhode Island) to figure things out and the result was the amazing Constitution of the United States. It still works today because of the brilliance and cooperation of those who met together to create this document.

Cold hard facts are the text of this book, but it is the fun illustrations that really explain and expound upon the the subject. It is the illustrations that kept me reading along. Very kid friendly. And for a subject that can be way over the heads of many ten year olds.

An afterword explains the process of the Constitution in detail as does a notes section that expands upon the most complicated parts of the book in a clever question-answer format. The book also includes a web link to the Constitution with an invitation to read the document for oneself and a lengthy bibliography.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Kirsten G. Cutler on December 17, 2009
Format: Hardcover
This book is a playful comic book style introduction to the political process that resulted in the development of the Constitution of the United States. It adeptly explains how the state delegates met to discuss the problems created when thirteen separate state governments, each with their own rules and monetary system try to trade with one another. Representatives of five states agree to convene another meeting to discuss creating a form of federalized government to enable them to trade more easily. Dialog balloons enable the interjection of amusing fictionalized comments expressed during the process. Created within the framework of a class play with a multicultural cast enables a process that was actually taken on by 55 white men to seem more inclusive. Children wear costumes that identify their state by their abbreviations; it would have been helpful if the map of the states had included these abbreviations.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful By VT on April 16, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Thinking about introducing the Constitution in a classroom? This is the book for you! Students are captivated by title alone! "Unite or Die" ... sounds ominous, students want to know more! The book doesn't disappoint as you dive into the pages. It's a fun to read, book with illustrations that aptly support the "story". The premise, a school play about how our Framers came together to write the Constitution and what their concerns were that shaped that document. From this book, students are able to grasp the historical context and appreciate the significance of the Constitution in shaping America. It is simple in approach but strong in impact!

There's a readers' theater script available online at the author's website which further extends the value of this book in the classroom. It's a simple 4 page script incorporating 18 parts. Students find delight in this fresh approach! Watch students "get it" as they assume the various roles and re-enact the Convention! Bravo!

An additional praise ... the author has put together a story that embraces our multicultural population and demonstrates that our constitution is for "We the people!"

Love the book! (And the readers' theater that goes with it!) A treasure!
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By M. Heiss on August 25, 2012
Format: Paperback
And ... is it head lice? Maryland, New Jersey, and Virginia keep scratching their heads.

I'm not a big fan of the illustrations in this book, but I love the idea of acting out American History. This book is great on why the Articles of Confederation could not work. It is ok on separation of powers and the Connecticut compromise. It is silent on specific regional differences and the slavery headcounts in the 3/5 compromise. It claims the Constitution is a "living document" - bah. The illustrations are a combination of GREAT (backdrops/historical buildings/creative scenery) and WRETCHED (the horrid people).

All in all, after you have taught about the Articles of Confederation, this modern- cartoonish book might be just the thing to help your kids get creative.
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