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The Constitution decoded : a guide to the document that shapes our nation
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School Library Journal Review
Gr 5--8--Kennedy's examination of the U.S. Constitution translates the document into accessible, modern language for young readers. The book uses an easy-to-follow format. The original text of the Constitution appears on the left page with numbered notations (similar to footnotes) corresponding to the "decoded" explanation on the right page. Kennedy clarifies the sometimes wordy, dense text and outdated spellings. There are notes about changes made to the Constitution over the course of history, namely changes implemented by amendments ratified by the states. Kirchner's cartoon-style illustrations depict important people who were involved in shaping the legal history of the country. "Did You Know?" fact boxes provide details about specific court cases, political events, and historical incidents. African American historical figures (including Harriet Tubman, Dred Scott, and Frederick Douglass) and Native American activists (Richard Oakes) discuss parts of the Constitution that have impacted marginalized Americans. The book concludes with the texts of the Declaration of Independence and the Articles of Confederation. Back matter offers a vocabulary section, further reading, and an index. However, the original text for Article X of the Covenant of the League of Nations is missing. VERDICT In the hands of a skilled social studies teacher, this informative book will help students unpack this foundational document that impacts all Americans. Recommended for school and public libraries.--Lisa Crandall, formerly at the Capital Area Dist. Lib., Holt, MI
Booklist Review
Current events make it vital for young people to understand their rights as written in the U.S. Constitution, because, as author Kennedy asserts, "it's hard to preserve your freedoms if you don't know what they are." The Constitution's text is included, alongside a clear and understandable translation. Unfamiliar words in bold are defined, and sidebars, often illustrated by notable historical figures, explain why the document says what it does. "Constitution in Action" boxes contain information on how the document works in practice and offer more detail about how our government works. Fascinating facts are revealed, such as the existence of an area in the Idaho part of Yellowstone Park where you could commit a murder and never go to trial (accidentally created by the 6th Amendment), and quirky proposed amendments that weren't ratified, like one from 1893 to rename the country "the United States of Earth." Kirchner's bright, sometimes sly illustrations enhance a book that's invitingly designed and completed by an index and further reading suggestions. Kennedy admirably decodes a document that's not easily decipherable.
Kirkus Review
Kennedy and Kirchner present young readers with an introduction to the U.S. Constitution and its amendments, offering a direct, simple "translation" of the original text. An introduction explains why the Constitution is important before Kennedy launches into her project of presenting the Constitution in its original language and her accompanying paraphrasing and examples, organized by articles, sections, and amendments. Vocabulary words are identified in bold and defined at the bottom of each page and in a glossary. Boxes labeled "Did You Know?" and "Look Back" offer limited factual backstory about how or why a specific part of the document was created. "Constitution in Action" boxes explain how the document is used in practice and further explore how the government works. No overarching narrative ties all the text together. The complete texts of the Declaration of Independence and the Articles of Confederation are included as further reading but without accompanying simplified versions. Contextual explanations are often vague, the two sentences discussing the freedom of speech not including any of its limitations, for instance. There is no explanation of how the Constitutional Convention was organized or of who participated. The cartoon illustrations depicting diverse but generic-looking figures wearing contemporary and historical garb and a sprinkling of anthropomorphized states are oddly incongruous with the seriously toned, straightforward text. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-16-inchdouble-page spreads viewed at 83% of actual size.) This effort will leave readers aware of the document but with little understanding of it. (glossary, further reading, index) (Nonfiction. 8-12) Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Be an active citizen. Know your Constitution!

Ever wonder why the president has a Cabinet? Why there's such thing as trial by jury? Why someday you'll have to pay income tax, or why there are no Dukes, Duchesses, Counts, or Countesses in the United States? Because the Constitution says so--and so much more. And now, in The Constitution Decoded , the ideas, concepts, and rules that make America are unpacked and explained in detail to help all of us, kids and parents too, become more informed citizens.

Written with impeccable clarity and illustrated in a style that brings America's early days to life, this fascinating guide goes through the Constitution literally word by word, sentence by sentence, and idea by idea to give readers a true understanding of not only how the Framers envisioned the United States, but also why they made the choices they did. Here's why, for example, the United States has three branches of government--legislative, executive, and judicial. It explains how bills become laws, why we have the right to free speech, how we can change the Constitution as our country evolves, and so much more.

Packed with historical context and figures, vocabulary, anecdotes, and trivia, this book is an accessible yet richly layered work that belongs in every family library.

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