Rescuing the Declaration of Independence: How We Almost Lost the Words That Built America
Rescuing the Declaration of Independence: How We Almost Lost the Words That Built America
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Rescuing the Declaration of Independence: How We Almost Lost the Words That Built America

Written by Anna Crowley Redding & illustrated by Edwin Fotheringham
Published by HarperCollins
Prices as of Sep 17

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The detailed—to a fault, at times—story of an ordinary clerk that saved America’s extraordinary documents.

It’s 1814, and Stephen Pleasanton serves as a clerk for Secretary of State James Monroe, which primarily means “Stephen lived and breathed paper.” When, on a scouting expedition during the War of 1812, Secretary Monroe discovers the British plan to march on America’s newly established capital, Washington, D.C., he sends urgent news to Pleasanton to “Remove the records.” Thus begins Pleasanton’s urgent task of transporting the founding documents of the young nation, including the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, to a safe location outside the capital. This undertaking requires securing any wagons available and carting load after load of linen sacks stuffed full of rolled parchment. It also requires defying the most powerful military leader in the country, Secretary of War John Armstrong, who is convinced the British won’t attack the capital. As Pleasonton recovers in a tavern room once all the documents are safely hidden, Washington can be seen out the window, alight in orange and yellow flames. Some commentary by Redding and the inclusion of details bordering on minutiae make this story about an unknown but interesting piece of history about America’s founding documents a little long, but overall Redding’s storytelling is engaging and easy to read. Fotheringham’s (A Home for Mr. Emerson) busy illustrations match the urgency of Pleasonton’s rescue mission and even include instances of hand lettering that add a historic, substantive feel to the story otherwise cheapened by his cartoonish caricatures with their oversized heads and exaggerated features.

What Kind of Book is Rescuing the Declaration of Independence: How We Almost Lost the Words That Built America

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What Questions Should I Ask My Child

  • To save the Declaration of Independence and other important documents, Stephen had to stand up to leaders. Have you ever had someone question what you believed or said? How did you respond?
  • The first place where the documents were hidden, the gristmill, was not a safe place. Stephen made the difficult but important decision to move them again. Have you ever had to redo a project, even when it seemed very hard to do it again?

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Book Details

ISBN
9780062740328
Publication Date
April 14, 2020
Illustration Details
The illustrations and hand lettering were drawn by hand on a digital device.
Page Count
40
Reading Age
4 - 8 years
Lib. of Congress (LCCN)
2018964880
WorldCat Number (OCLC)
1109837253
ASIN/ISBN 10
0062740326

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Depth Score - 37%

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