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Shh! We're Writing the Constitution Paperback – December 29, 1997

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 2-5 An informative, interesting, and immensely readable account of the Constitutional Convention of 1787. Aimed at the same audience as Fritz' well-known series on Revolutionary heroes (Coward), this is every bit as good as those acclaimed titles, although younger children might need to have some terms clarified. Neatly woven into the discussion of what the framers were doing and how they did it are some wonderfully gossippy tidbits that are sure to catch young readers' imagination and make it all come alive for them. The text of the Constitution is included, as well as several pages of notes that expand upon some of the points that the main text touches upon. DePaola's choice of what to illustrate is excellent, as he has selected situations that have great child appeal. His illustrations, many of which are in color, add a further touch of good humor to the proceedings, particularly the sourpuss expressions on some of the founding fathers. This is superior to Marilyn Prolman's Story of the Constitution (Childrens, 1969), which is for the same age group. It is similar in style to Henry Steele Commager's The Great Constitution (Bobbs-Merrill, 1961), which is for an older audience. Fritz' ability to simplify without condescending makes this an excellent choice for introducing young readers to the complexities of the constitution. Elaine Fort Weischedel, Turner Free Lib . , Randolph, Mass.
Copyright 1987 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Jean Fritz, the Newbery Honor-winning author of Homesick, is best known for her engaging and enlightening nonfiction for young readers, including What's the Big Idea, Ben Franklin?, And Then What Happened, Paul Revere?, and Shh! We're Writing the Constitution. She was honored with the Knickerbocker Award for Juvenile Literature by the New York State Library Association, and won the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award for her career contribution to American children's literature.

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 7 - 9 years
  • Grade Level: 2 - 4
  • Paperback: 64 pages
  • Publisher: Puffin Books; Reissue edition (December 29, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0698116240
  • ISBN-13: 978-0698116245
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 0.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #15,960 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

"The question I am most often asked," Jean Fritz says, "is how do I find my ideas? The answer is: I don't. Ideas find me. A character in history will suddenly step right out of the past and demand a book. Generally people don't bother to speak to me unless there's a good chance that I'll take them on." Throughout almost four decades of writing about history, Jean Fritz has taken on plenty of people, starting with George Washington in The Cabin Faced West (1958). Since then, her refreshingly informal historical biographies for children have been widely acclaimed as "unconventional," "good-humored," "witty," "irrepressible," and "extraordinary."In her role as biographer, Jean Fritz attempts to uncover the adventures and personalities behind each character she researches. "Once my character and I have reached an understanding," she explains, "then I begin the detective work--reading old books, old letters, old newspapers, and visiting the places where my subject lived. Often I turn up surprises and of course I pass these on." It is her penchant for making distant historical figures seem real that brings the characters to life and makes the biographies entertaining, informative, and filled with natural child appeal.An original and lively thinker, as well as an inspiration to children and adults, Jean Fritz is undeniably a master of her craft. She was awarded the Regina Medal by the Catholic Library Association, presented with the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award by the American Library Association for her "substantial and lasting contribution to children's literature," and honored with the Knickerbocker Award for Juvenile Literature, which was presented by the New York State Library Association for her body of work.

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

34 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Lawrance Bernabo HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on November 17, 2004
Format: Hardcover
The point of Jean Fritz's "Shh! We're Writing the Constitution" is that contrary to popular opinion, America had to be dragged kicking and screaming into becoming a new nation. While it is true that Americans were happy to be independent of Great Britain, the colonies that were now states had become used to being sovereign and many of them wanted to keep it that way. Illustrated by Tomie de Paola,, this engaging juvenile history tells how fifty-five delegates gathered in Philadelphia in the summer of 1787 to attempt to draw up a plan for the future of the United States. The result was the writing of the Constitution, despite the fact that initially no one agreed to either what should be in it or even if a constitution should be drawn up in the first place.

Fritz makes it clear that there were Founding Fathers, such as Patrick Henry who refused to attend the convention, who did not want a strong federal government, as well as those like Alexander Hamilton who dismissed the current confederation as "nothing but a monster with thirteen heads." The "Shh!" in the title has to do with the agreement of the delegates to keep the proceedings a secret. One of the great things about this book is that young students who already know about George Washington and Benjamin Franklin will learn about other Founding Fathers who were important in framing the Constitution, such as Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts, William Paterson of New Jersey, Luther Martin of Maryland, and Edmund Randolph of Virginia. Again, not all of these men would sign their names to the finished document, but they were important during the debate.
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49 of 53 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 13, 2001
Format: Paperback
Hi! I am a twelve year old girl from California and i was verry nervous about the constitutioin test.This book helped me a lot on the test. I was so woried and nervous, but once i read this book, along with If You Were There When They Wrote THe Constitution,I knew i had studied to my full capability! I was so overloaded with information i didn't even need for the test! But all of that studying paid off because ,with the help from this book, I got***********100%*********************! My family was so proud of me. well i didn't just write this review to brag i wrote it to tell you that this book was a great investement for me! also if you are anything like me you will still think you need to study more so you should also buy if you were there when they wrote the constitition.Good Luck!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Dwight Blubaugh on July 29, 2009
Format: Paperback
Jean Fritz has been writing books about U.S. history for decades, and SHH! WE'RE WRITING THE CONSTITUTION, originally published in 1987, is another fine addition to her collection. The first 44 pages (minus a few - the story actually starts on page 7) are a history of how the Constitution came to be written and ratified, followed by four interesting pages of notes, and then the Constitution itself (excluding any amendments), for a total of 64 pages. I am surprised to see that AR has this listed at a reading level of RL 7.1, but I am assuming that this reading level includes the actual Constitution at the end of the book, which would certainly drive up the overall reading level - the earlier parts of the book seem somewhat lower to me. I had never read the Constitution in its entirety, so was glad it was included in the book. And though I'm a bit of a history buff, I did learn several new things about our Constitution and how it came to be.

We often take our country and its beliefs for granted, but this book does a nice job of showing that there was plenty of disagreement during the hot summer of 1787 while delegates from the Colonies wrote this founding document, our blueprint for a Republican government. Fritz does a nice job showing the different personalities of some of these delegates and how this factored into the proceedings, mentioning things like some delegates falling asleep during the presentations of one boring speaker. While the temperatures boiled, so did some of the tempers, with some members even storming out in anger at times. Nothing about our founding was cut and dried, nor could anyone take for granted how things would turn out, and this book makes that fact come alive.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on August 12, 2008
Format: Paperback
Writing in a conversational storytelling style, Jean Fritz describes the writing of the Constitution and the development of the Bill of Rights. Quick to clear up any misunderstanding about how the colonies came to form a new nation - those fifty-five delegates from the fledgling sovereign states did not come to Philadelphia singing sweet refrains of "one nation under God" - the text clearly and thoroughly covers the arguments, debates, negotiations, and compromises that hallmarked that Federal Convention. The text is compelling, interesting, and complete; and along the way, Fritz takes the time to show the human side of such historical icons as George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, and James Madison as she fills in the details about the forming of our nation. Also of particular note are the references appended, which include the complete text of the Constitution, a complete list of the signers, and a list of references supporting specific pages in the book.

And as always, Tomie Depaola's well-researched, uncomplicated illustrations thoroughly support the text and lend historical accuracy to the content, further facilitating reader understanding and augmenting retention.
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