A More Perfect Union: The Story of Our Constitution

 A More Perfect Union: The Story of our Constitution  by Betsy Maestro.  Illustrated by Giulio Maestro. Harper Collins Children’s, 1987.  48 pages.  Publisher recommends for ages 7-12.

In 1787 people in our country could see that the government wasn’t working very well. Delegates gathered in Philadelphia to try to fix the government and ended up creating the Constitution and the government we now have. This book conscientiously walks us through a top-level view of what happened that summer in Philadelphia.

Many of the delegates were late to the convention. The book spends a total of four pages, two two-page spreads, on the late start, but the significance of the late start is not explained,  We learn later, on page 14, that this late start allowed some of those who arrived on time to formulate what was called “The Virginia Plan”.

George Washington was chosen as the leader of the convention. James Madison, according to the book, offered to write down everything that happened. The rest of the story continues on in the same rather uninteresting way.

The book recites the very basic facts of the summer of 1787 and the beginning job of putting the Constitution to work, such as electing a president.  If a child needs an introduction to the writing of the Constitution, this would serve except that it’s dull. There’s no clash of personalities. Only the broadest clash of ideas is presented in the argument made by small states about how they are represented in Congress. The book doesn’t even mention how the argument was resolved.

The illustrations don’t add to or subtract from the book. They are simply present.  And basically, the book has the same relationship to the events of the summer of 1787. It doesn’t try to make the events exciting, nor does it try to make them dull, it is simply present.

The last few pages contain “Additional Information about the Constitution.”  These are more valuable than the book itself.  There’s a summary of the Articles of the Constitution, and a summary of the Amendments to the Constitution. Plus “Notes on the Connecticut Compromise and “Interesting Facts about the Convention and the Delegates.”  These few pages make the book a great reference in a classroom learning about the Constitution.