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Unite or Die

Unite or Die Wins 2010 Whitney and Scott Cardozo Award
for Children's Literature

Illustrated by Jef Czekaj
Charlesbridge, 2009
Ages 8 and up
ISBN: 978-1-58089-189-9, hc, $16.95
ISBN: 978-1-58089-190-5, pb, $7.95

Unite or Die book trailer Constitution Day Resources
Reader's Theater for Unite or Die In 1787 (Constitution song and poem)

In 1783 the American Revolution ended.
A new country was born!

But that new country took awhile to get on its feet. Squabbles among the states, a weak central government, and a fear of tyrannical leaders made the young democracy a complicated, divided mess. Could the United States of America survive?

With exuberant illustrations and an engaging style that is suitable for reader's theater, Unite or Die traces the challenges, conflicts, and compromises that shaped the living document we call the United States Constitution.


Read my blog "How a Public Law Became a Children's Book," on Charlesbridge Unabridged.

Unite or Die listed on The New York Public Library Recommended Reading List for Kids, 2009

Unite or Die On School Library Journal List of Children's Books on Politics

Unite or Die


Star "A lively way to kick off discussions of how the Constitution works and why it's still a living document . . . ." -- Kirkus Reviews. Read the full review.

Star "The vividly colored spreads will hold the interest of even middle school students and would be useful to introduce how our form of government was created. Students will enjoy presenting this book as reader’s theater." -- School Library Journal 

Star "An original presentation of a pivotal point in U.S. history." -- Booklist.

Star "[This book] reminds me a bit of Schoolhouse Rock. It takes important historical information about the United States, and conveys it in a fun, fresh format.... This is a must-have title for schools and libraries." -- Jen Robinson's Book Page. Read the full review.

Star "The abandonment of the Articles of Confederation in favor of a federal Constitution probably ranks among the more soporific U.S. history topics, particularly for grade school students. Jules gives it a surprisingly engaging twist in this picture-book treatment, which features a cast of schoolkids putting on a play in which the arguments for and against adopting a Constitution and the details of equitable representation and individual rights are hashed out in kid-friendly dialogue . . . ." -- Bulletin of the Center For Children's Literature.

Star ". . . a perfect book to sit down with this holiday [July Fourth] weekend with your kids and learn exactly how the constitution was created. . . . as an adult I learned a lot from this picture book." -- Maw Books Blog, July 4, 2009. Read the review.

Star "The book’s style makes a complicated topic more accessible and enjoyable. It’s perfect for classroom use and covers a subject that all American kids will study, even if they don’t have their own class play." -- MotherReader Blog, March 2, 2009. Read the review.

Star "Unite or Die gives a great overview of the Constitutional Convention. Jacqueline Jules's concise text explains why we needed it. It explains what issues the delegates discussed and what they debated. And it explains how our Constitution was created and designed to grow with us as a nation." -- Abby (the) Librarian Blog, April 27, 2009. Read the review.

Star "Fun, fun fun. Sure we have heard of the Articles of Confederation and the Virginia Compromise and the New Jersey Plan, but who really remembers much about them? This book could help lots of kids (and adults, on occasion) better understand how our system of government came about." -- readerbuzz blog, October 24, 2009. Read the review.

Star "For a very humorous look at Revolutionary history, look no further than Jacqueline Jules' elementary school take on the Constitution, Unite or Die. Using a grade school classic, the play!, she brings a cast of cardboard constructed, state-shaped kids onto the stage to tell the story of how the colonial delegates came to form a single nation. . . . Homeschoolers grab this one for sure and teachers, make it a staple in your classroom." -- Colleen Mondor, eclectica.org. Read the review.

Star "This is a very enthusiastic and informative way to explain to kids how our nation was born. It uses the literary device of a school play . . . . With wit and charm, the 'actors' struggle with the very issues the real delegates faced as they invented an entirely new form of government. Here's a terrific way to teach civics to young children!" -- Book Bit, WTBF-AM/FM, Troy, AL, July 3, 2009.

Star "one of the most kid-friendly books I've ever read that explains how our Constitution came to be... Jules does a wonderful job mixing the facts of these events with the dialogue of the states (in speech bubbles, no less)....During all of this, the dialogue of the states propels the story forward in a way that children will be able to understand. Because of this dialogue, the reader is better able to understand the need for the three separate branches of government provided in the Constitution." -- Literate Lives. Read the full review.

Star "This book is a playful comic book style introduction to the political process that resulted in the development of the Constitution of the United States. It adeptly explains how the state delegates met to discuss the problems created when thirteen separate state governments, each with their own rules and monetary system try to trade with one another." 4IQRead Blog, December 17, 2009. Read the full review.

Star "American History not your favorite subject? You might change your mind after reading this original interpretation of the founding of our nation told in Graphic Novel format." -- A Book and a Hug. Read the full review.


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