The Journey of the One and Only Declaration of Independence


*"This well-researched, readable, and well-illustrated book belongs on the shelves of all public and school libraries. It?s a wonderful way to learn history."
?School Library Journal, starred review

*"History buffs or not, all readers will come away better informed about this honored 2'?21/2' sheet of parchment."
?Publishers Weekly, starred review

Everyone would agree the one and only Declaration of Independence deservesthe best. After all, ...

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*"This well-researched, readable, and well-illustrated book belongs on the shelves of all public and school libraries. It’s a wonderful way to learn history."
School Library Journal, starred review

*"History buffs or not, all readers will come away better informed about this honored 2'×21/2' sheet of parchment."
Publishers Weekly, starred review

Everyone would agree the one and only Declaration of Independence deservesthe best. After all, it's at the heart of our country. But since it was signed in 1776, the Declaration has had as many ups and downs as the United States itself. It has been rolled up, copied, hidden away and traveled by horseback, sailing vessel, mail truck, railroad car and military tank. After being front and center of a new nation, it has escaped two British invasions and survived for more than two centuries of both peaceful times and devastating wars.What a journey! And it remains proudly the one and only Declaration of Independence.

Judith St. George, author of So You Want to Be President?, and Will Hillenbrand give readers a witty and wonderfully illustrated true story of the invincible Declaration, giving heroic testimony to the grit and determination of the country itself.A fun and fascinating way to share the history of the document that gave the American people their freedom.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
St. George (So, You Want to Be President?) offers readers another engaging foray into U.S. history as she chronicles the journey of one of the nation's most hallowed documents. "The Declaration of Independence has had more homes than a traveling circus." Though lengthy and far-reaching in scope, the account moves swiftly, thanks to a conversational style and a sprinkling of interesting, little-known facts. Readers follow the document from its creation ("Every S looked like an F, but since that was the way people wrote back then, nobody minded") to the many times it was spirited off to secret locales during wartime (e.g., Fort Knox during WWII) to the argument over its ultimate home in Washington D.C. An often tongue-in-cheek tone (a running joke reiterates that "parchment should never be folded") and humorous, parenthetical asides ensure the story's accessibility. Hillenbrand's (Down on the Farm) mixed-media artwork fluidly captures a variety of moods, from innocent-looking children to important historical figures, contributing mightily to this entertaining history lesson. One spread depicts elder statesmen-their monogrammed britches denote which of the original 13 states they represent-comically duking it out to highlight the nascent nation's infighting. But the artist also does not shy away from grave moments: a Civil War scene depicts a soldier reeling from a wound to the chest, near a heap of abstractly outlined bodies. History buffs or not, all readers will come away better informed about this honored 2' 21/2' sheet of parchment. Ages 5-up. (May) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature - Joan Kindig
This viewer, like many others to come, was surprised to find out that the Declaration of Independence even HAD a journey. It was created by the Founding Fathers and signed in Philadelphia, we all know that, but learning that it was not signed by all of the participants on the same day and that it had to be copied by a scribe was new information. From there, it did have a journey, and the facts concerning why, when, and where it moved are fascinating. Was there just the one original? Was it well protected so that it would survive for ages? This DVD answers all of those questions and more as it tells the story of the journey the great document had. In the name of safety, the document moved from Philadelphia to New York, and exactly where IS it now? Told in a conversational tone and illustrated with cartoon-like drawings, the story is fun and interesting. Children will sit still for Jeff Brooks's narration of this history "lesson" that instructs but also opens their eyes to what history truly is: a good story. The producers suggest ages 6-12 for this DVD but it could even be used in a high school classroom discussing primary source material. Running time is 6 minutes. Reviewer: Joan Kindig, Ph.D.
School Library Journal
Gr 3-6-Few Americans are aware that "the Declaration of Independence has had more homes than a traveling circus." St. George reveals its interesting, sometimes perilous journey across time since Thomas Jefferson penned the words in 1776. Each leg of the trip is described in bouncy, interactive prose leading to a logical conclusion and a question for readers. For example: "Wow, the official, one-and-only Declaration of Independence was set forever in Philadelphia's handsome brick Pennsylvania State House on Chestnut Street. Right? WRONG!" Readers will learn fascinating details: the original Declaration was "engrossed-that is, written in large, clear letters on parchment"-by Timothy Matlack onto a two-foot-wide by two-and-a-half-foot-long parchment. The Declaration was shuffled from place to place during the war and for five years after because the quarreling 13 states acted "like thirteen spoiled children." Hillenbrand's lively mixed-media illustrations are a perfect match for the text, filling the pages with visual energy and humor. Stylized paintings feature creative depictions of major events in American history, such as doctors holding a stethoscope and running tests on an ailing Declaration in desperate need of repair. Children will enjoy finding the eagle on every spread actively engaged in the scene. This well-researched, readable, and well-illustrated book belongs on the shelves of all public and school libraries. It's a wonderful way to learn history.-Lee Bock, Glenbrook Elementary School, Pulaski, WI Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
This is undeniably winning; whether it is good, however, is up for discussion. St. George employs her lively style to chronicle the journeys of the Declaration of Independence (and its copies) through American history. Jefferson composed it, 25 copies were printed and the signers put their signatures to an engrossed version, i.e. written in large clear letters on parchment. It's that version that has been rolled up and hidden, recopied, hung in sunlight (which faded it), in a room with cigar smokers and a fireplace, restored and fought over by the Library of Congress and the National Archives. St. George casually races through American history. She makes a running joke that parchment must be rolled, not folded, but never explains why or what parchment is. The pictures, charming as they are, are certainly not meant to be historical (or literal) with their cartoony aspects and odd touches (the restoration folk treat the Declaration with cardiac monitors, stethoscope and test tube). Children will probably love it, but whether they will get any honest history out of it is a different question. (bibliography) (Picture book. 5-9)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780399237386
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 5/28/2005
  • Pages: 48
  • Sales rank: 1,389,509
  • Age range: 7 - 10 Years
  • Product dimensions: 11.31 (w) x 9.01 (h) x 0.46 (d)

Meet the Author

Judith St. George has published dozens of successful nonfiction books for children, including the Caldecott Medal-winning So You Want to Be President? and the historical Turning Point series, including You’re On Your Way, Teddy RooseveltStand Tall, Abe Lincoln; and Take the Lead, George Washington. You can visit her online at

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