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What's the Big Deal About Freedom

illus. by Matt Faulkner. 32p. (What's the Big Deal About: Bk. 2). chron. further reading. Philomel. May 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780399547287.
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Gr 2–5—Americans describe their country as the "land of the free" every time they sing their national anthem, but how often do they take a step back and really think about what that phrase means? Starting with the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, this book considers how freedom has been expanded and restricted by governmental, racial, religious, and economic factors. Demonstrating that freedom in practice can be the framework that provides citizens with rights and protections, the author explains the significance of the Bill of Rights, then goes into more detail about slavery, labor laws, immigration policies, and voting expansion. Using a question-and-answer format, the conversational text incorporates sentence fragments and mimics an animated adult/child discussion. Carefully designed and well-executed watercolor and pencil illustrations spill over the pages, adding information, detail, and humor to the text. The images depict people of varying ethnicities, religious dress, and ages; a person using a wheelchair; same-sex couples; etc. Presenting so many topics necessarily leads to some simplification, but Shamir offers enough content to give readers a general idea and inspire them to investigate further.
VERDICT An effective place for children to begin learning about the concept of freedom. A general nonfiction purchase.

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