From the Publisher
"This zany, patriotic paean offers kids lighthearted but meaningful incentive to reflect further on the relevance of those 'big words' and 'big ideas.'"—Publisher's Weekly
"Wow! All those dry, difficult words from the Preamble to the Constitution are made easy to understand through wild, wacky, full-color art done by a well-known political cartoonist."—School Library Journal
"As well as being an engaging way of removing barriers to understanding raised by the Constitution's stylized language, this makes a first-class discussion starter for many of the ideas and issues it addresses"—Kirkus Reviews
The Barnes & Noble Review
Remember sitting in elementary school trying to memorize the Preamble to the Constitution? Remember how baffling it was? The words were big, they didn't make a lot of sense, and how they applied to your life wasn't too clear. Lucky for us, award-winning book illustrator and political cartoonist David Catrow has taken the most important introduction in our country's history and made it easy to understand in a hilarious, inspiring new book.
We the Kids follows three adorable youngsters and one remarkable dog as they get ready for a camping adventure in the great outdoors. What makes this adventure different is that it is told through the Preamble. Just as the historical document starts out with "We the People of the United States," we're introduced to the children and their energetic pooch friend, who is standing by with a gargantuan, overloaded backpack. As the Preamble goes on, then, so does the story: They find themselves forming a More Perfect Union by finding their camping site, promoting the General Welfare by telling stories around a campfire, and securing the blessings of Liberty by settling down for a good night's sleep -- all in the backyard under the watchful eyes of two parents.
With bright watercolor illustrations and sweet, cartoonlike characters, Catrow provides an entertaining story that brings the Preamble to life. The dog's actions throughout the book are truly sidesplitting, but they also explain to young readers each line of the Preamble. A fun introduction from Catrow called "Big Words, Big Ideas." and a line-by-line explanation of the Preamble add to the book's pleasures.
For school reports and American holiday celebrations, this is one book young historians won't want to miss. (Matthew Warner)
Catrow (She's Wearing a Dead Bird on Her Head!), who doubles as a political cartoonist, writes in his amiable introduction, "When I paint my paintings and draw my cartoons, I can do them any way I want. Being able to do that makes me very happy and very free. And I think that's exactly what all those old guys with their big words and big ideas wanted," he says, referring to the authors of the Constitution and the liberty he enjoys as a result of their efforts. Following a casual glossary (e.g., "insure domestic tranquility" means "To make sure that we can all have a nice life and get along with one another"), he takes fresh liberties he uses the Preamble as text for spry, loopy cartoons chronicling three eccentric-looking kids and a spirited pooch on a backyard camping caper. The characters review a poster outlining rules for the evening ("establish Justice"); wearing a helmet and looking bored, the dog stands guard as the kids frolic in the tent ("provide for the common defense"). And everyone snuggles under a blanket ("and secure the Blessings of Liberty") while two parents survey the placid scene from a window ("to ourselves and our Posterity"). With his customary satiric flair, Catrow inserts plentiful tongue-in-cheek visuals: a saucepan bouncing off one child's head while she sits entangled in another child's rope hardly suggests "domestic Tranquility." This zany, patriotic paean offers kids lighthearted but meaningful incentive to reflect further on the relevance of those "big words" and "big ideas." All ages. (May) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Just in time for the current wave of patriotism comes this explanation of the Preamble in language that children can understand. After an introduction, Catrow "translates" the words into simple statements. Then, using the Preamble itself as the only text, he takes us on a visual adventure as a group of kids and their dog live it out on a camp-out, a wild adventure which fills the double pages with active, cartoon-y, pencil and watercolor illustrations relating to each phrase. For example, "establish Justice" shows the kids examining a chart on which a lesson in "Rules" for their expedition is spelled out. The metaphors, delightfully funny as they are, humanize what might be a dull classroom exercise. Every citizen and would-be citizen can learn from and enjoy this examination of one of our canons. 2002, Dial Books for Young Readers/Penguin Putnam,
Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal
K-Gr 5-Wow! All those dry, difficult words from the Preamble to the Constitution are made easy to understand through wild, wacky, full-color art done by a well-known political cartoonist. After a foreword and a page of definitions, Catrow uses his marvelous, witty style to create a visual delight, encouraging kids to giggle and then claim ownership of the words and the basic concepts they ensure. A black-and-white dog with droopy ears (the artist's dog, Bubbs) leads three children on a camping trip. Along the way, the pup ably shows them all the ways these ideals work today. The book concludes with a sweeping landscape of fields, mountains, and a river, and the words, "for the United States of America." A winner.-Pamela K. Bomboy, Chesterfield County Public Schools, VA Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Serving an earnest purpose with characteristic zaniness, Catrow (Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon, 2001, etc.) twice interprets the Constitution's first sentence. First, a simple repeat of the words is accompanied by an explanatory gloss on each ringing phrase; then a series of full-bleed, neon-colored scenes lets three exuberant children and a springer spaniel act out its principles while organizing a backyard campout. The two are sandwiched between a personal foreword, in which the cartoonist describes his first encounter with the Constitution-"I remember thinking: MAN, why couldn't the guys who wrote this just use regular English?"-while assuring younger readers that its radical ideas are not beyond their comprehension and, for the Preamble's final words, a cinematic close in which the view pans away from the children, sleeping safely under parental eyes, toward distant horizons. As well as being an engaging way of removing barriers to understanding raised by the Constitution's stylized language, this makes a first-class discussion starter for many of the ideas and issues it addresses. (Picture book. 7-12)