The Journey of the One and Only Declaration of Independence by Judith St. George

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The Journey of the One and Only Declaration of Independence by Judith St. George (illustrated by Will Hillenbrand; Philomel Books, 2005) is a nonfiction story about the physical copy (copies) of the Declaration of Independence. Rather than talking about the reasons for its creation (which is briefly touched upon), it is about the parchment itself and how it was moved over time. By following chronological events of American history, it mentions where the Declaration of Independence is, with a common refrain suggesting that now the document’s journey was done, “Right? Wrong!”

The events from American history include the history of the capital of the country (New York City, Philadelphia, and then Washington, D.C.), the War of 1812, and the method of creating multiple copies of the document (by etching the image of the original onto a copper plate). I’d never learned before how copies were made in the 1820s! The document hung on a wall in the sun during the Civil War, then put under glass (finally) in the 1870s until it was kept protected in Fort Knox during World War II. There were arguments about where to put it next, but the main point is that, although the document still is old and fading and in need of help, the concepts it contains have continued throughout the history of our nation and will continue to do so.

I’ve never read a book quite like this. I like how it captured the very unique journey of the actual piece of parchment. The author did a great job of drawing the concepts of freedom, independence, and equality into the book as she reviewed American history, from the original Independence Day until now. The author’s voice was playful and amusing at the same time that the text was informational.

Reviewed on June 27, 2024

About the author 

Rebecca Reid

Rebecca Reid is a homeschooling, stay-at-home mother seeking to make the journey of life-long learning fun by reading lots of good books. Rebecca Reads provides reviews of children's literature she has enjoyed with her children; nonfiction that enhances understanding of educational philosophies, history and more; and classical literature that Rebecca enjoys reading.

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