Themed Reviews

Benjamin Franklin

   Benjamin Franklin (January 17, 1706 - April 17, 1790) was one of the most prominent of the Founders and early political figures and statesmen of the United States. One of the earliest Founders, Franklin was noted for his curiosity, writings, ingenuity and diversity of interests. His wise and scintillating writings are proverbial to this day. He shaped the American Revolution, despite never holding national elective office; a leader of the Enlightenment, he gained the recognition of scientists and intellectuals across Europe and the United States. As an agent in London before the Revolution, and Minister to France during, he, more than anyone, defined the new nation in the minds of Europe. His success in securing French military and financial aid was the turning point for American victory over Britain. He invented the lightning rod; he was an early proponent of colonial unity; historians hail him as the "First American".

   "The city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania marked Franklin's 300th birthday in January 2006 with a wide array of exhibitions, and events citing Franklin's extraordinary accomplishments throughout his illustrious career." So the article on Benjamin Franklin begins on the Wikipedia web site: As the country recognizes his contributions to the nation, many people have been researching and studying the man that I think of as the Leonardo da Vinci of his time. Following are more sites that will lead you to a vast array of information about this amazing personage.

   Excellent site posted as "A service of the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office."--

Other sites of interest include and

   For those planning to visit Philadelphia during the year long celebration of the 300th anniversary of Ben Franklin's birth visit to make the most of your trip.

   Franklin dedicated himself to the improvement of everyday life for the widest number of people--visit this site to learn more about his inventions:

Contributer: Sheilah Egan


The Amazing Mr. Franklin, Or, the Boy Who Read Everything
Ruth Ashby
   This book offers an exciting version of Benjamin Franklin's life. Ben develops a love for books and the written word at a very early age. Due to his love of knowledge, he manages to teach himself many lessons. These lessons enable Ben to become one of the most famous inventors of all time as well as a major contributor to the founding of our nation. Throughout the story, Ben must work hard to enable himself to succeed. He meets many characters along the way who are dishonest, and Ben loses out for trusting them. Throughout his journey, Ben decides that he must try to be the most perfect man he can be. Like all humans, he has his faults, but he continues to live by his own honorable values and learns many life lessons along the way. Ben eventually marries and has children with his wife, Deborah. Although he had never been trained in the sciences, his yearning for knowledge helps him to create many inventions still in use today. Ben also became an icon for America and helped in many ways to establish the current government. This biography of Mr. Franklin's life shows the ups and downs he experienced while he followed his dreams. 2004, Peachtree Publishers, $12.95. Ages 9 to 12. Reviewer: Loren Adair (Children's Literature).
Best Books:
   Best Children's Books of the Year, 2004; Bank Street College of Education; United States
ISBN: 1561453064

B. Franklin, Printer
David A. Adler
   A great man's life does not necessarily portend a great biography. Thankfully, this middle grade reader lives up to the reputation of the man, Benjamin Franklin. Over his long life, Benjamin Franklin wore many coats--printer, inventor, writer, scientist and statesman. He was arguably as close to a true Renaissance man as this country has ever produced. After gaining fame for the wit and wisdom of his Poor Richard's Almanac, Franklin went on to make advances in science, including his work with electricity, inventing bifocals and the Franklin stove. As a leader in society, he was instrumental in organizing America's first public library, police and fire departments, and forming one of the first groups for the abolition of slavery. He was also the person most responsible for getting France's backing for the American Revolution. The author wisely uses frequent quotations from Franklin himself. Also included are many illustrations, suggested web sites, a chronology and a bibliography. And don't miss the source notes, which include information edited from the text but that the author (rightly so) felt too juicy to leave out completely. 2001, Holiday House, $19.95. Ages 10 up. Reviewer: Christopher Moning (Children's Literature).
Best Books:
   The Best Children's Books of the Year, 2002; Bank Street College of Education; United States
   Booklist Book Review Stars, Jan. 1, 2002; United States
   Children's Catalog, Eighteenth Edition, Supplement, 2003; H.W. Wilson; United States
   Los Angeles' 100 Best Books, 2001; IRA Children's Literature and Reading SIG and the Los Angeles Unified School District; United States
   Middle and Junior High School Library Catalog, Ninth Edition, 2005; H.W. Wilson; United States
   Middle and Junior High School Library Catalog, Supplement to the Eighth Edition, 2002; H.W. Wilson; United States
   Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People, 2002; National Council for the Social Studies NCSS; United States
   School Library Journal Book Review Stars, February 2002; Cahners; United States
Awards, Honors, Prizes:
   Orbis Pictus Award for Outstanding Nonfiction for Children Recommended Title 2002 United States
   Society of School Librarians International Book Awards Honor Book 2002 Social Studies-Grades 7-12 United States
Standards of Learning Information
   Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People, 2002; People, Places and Environments-III; Individuals, Groups and Institutions-V; Power, Authority and Governance-VI; National Council for the Social Studies NCSS
ISBN: 0823416755

Ben and Me
Robert Lawson
   Many people know about Benjamin Franklin, the inventor, writer, printer and diplomat. But few are aware that Franklin's muse was a mouse named Amos. In exchange for food and the shelter of a fur cap, Amos agrees to advise Franklin. After Franklin's death, Amos becomes bothered by incorrect accounts of Franklin's life. He tries to correct the record with his tales of how he helped Franklin to invent the stove, harness electricity, and create a lightning rod. Amos later accompanied Franklin to France on a mission to raise funds for the Revolutionary War. Franklin's growing popularity with the French annoyed Amos, who wanted to return home. When they received word of the British surrender, Amos concocted a plan to force their return. He and hundreds of other mice hid, many in Franklin's coat, and swarmed a ball at Versailles. Although he left France as an outcast, Franklin received a hero's welcome when he and Amos returned to the United States. Amos' stories are amusing, but his writing style is too quaint for contemporary kids used to realistic dialogue and a fast pace. 1988 (orig. 1939), Little Brown & Co., $16.45 and $5.95. Ages 8 to 12. Reviewer: Julie Steinberg, J.D. (Children's Literature).
Best Books:
   Children's Catalog, Eighteenth Edition, 2001; H.W. Wilson; United States Not Just for Children Anymore!, 2001; Children's Book Council; United States Suggested Books for RIF List, ALSC American Library Association; United States
ISBN: 0-316-51730-5
ISBN: 0-316-51732-1

Ben Franklin of Old Philadelphia
Margaret Cousins
   Who was Ben Franklin? Did you know that his dream was to be a sailor? Instead, at age twelve, he was bound to his older brother as a printing apprentice, and this set his course to becoming the man we know today as inventor and signer of the Declaration of Independence. Young readers will enjoy studying the life of Franklin with this classic biography from Landmark Books. Readers will learn about Ben's early days when he worked for printing presses in both America and England. They will discover that not only did Franklin discover that lightening and electricity were identical, but that his many inventions included establishing post offices, libraries, bifocals, stoves, and even the harmonica. An index and final chapter about Franklin's significant contributions to early American society are included. The book could be read for fun or easily incorporated into a social studies curriculum studying significant American lives. 1980 (orig. 1952), Landmark Books/Random House, $5.99. Ages 8 to 12. Reviewer: Mindy Hardwick (Children's Literature).
ISBN: 0-394-84928-0

Ben Franklin's Almanac: Being a True Account of the Good Gentleman's Life
Candace Fleming
   Fleming has taken an interesting approach to the life story of Benjamin Franklin. The book can be opened to any spread, where you will gain insight into the interest, accomplishments, family and political side of this American icon. Franklin was a printer by training, but having an inquisitive mind, he was also an inventor of items such as the Franklin stove and bifocals. He also was an ardent supporter of American independence from Great Britain and an able statesman and politician. The book is set up like his famous almanac, and the pages of the book are peppered with excerpts from Franklin's own writings. Also, he was involved in local affairs and established the first subscription library in Philadelphia and the first volunteer fire department. Today's kids are used to getting information in "sound bites," but these are more extensive and grouped so that together they form a fuller picture of the man and his life. The oversized book is full of illustrations that will help students by reinforcing or further illuminating the text. Fleming has provided an excellent bibliography that compliments the book chapters as well as noting the picture sources. Her book also contains an index, additional books and Web sites that will be of particular interest to students. She notes that she has been intrigued by Franklin for years and has even written a book about him for younger readers--The Hatmaker's Sign: A Story of Benjamin Franklin. Both will enrich any library or classroom collection. 2003, Atheneum/Simon & Schuster, $19.95. Ages 10 to 14. Reviewer: Marilyn Courtot (Children's Literature).

   It isn't often that we are lucky enough to be invited into the life of a man who had the curiosity of a child, the mind of a genius, who was not afraid to keep learning no matter what his age, and who was able to find humor in all manner of situations. Benjamin Franklin was such a man. Candace Fleming has created a book that allows us to explore Franklin's extraordinary life in a new way. Deciding not to write a tradition biography, she has chosen to present Franklin's life in the form of a scrapbook or almanac. This has a certain irony, for Franklin gained a good bit of his original popularity by publishing an almanac himself, entitled "Poor Richard's Almanac." Perhaps it is only fitting that his own life is presented in the form of an almanac as well. It is quite astonishing to discover in this remarkable book how much Franklin did indeed accomplish in his lifetime. Electrical experiments involving kites aside, he organized the first real postal system in the thirteen colonies, printed the first paper money, and saw, years before anyone else, that the American Revolution was going to happen. In fact, he also saw that slavery was an issue that was not going to go away; he knew that it would one day be a problem for the people of the United States. One of the wonderful things about this book is that one can pick it up and dip into the pages at random. The other is that once you pick it up, you cannot put it down. The book, looking so much like an almanac or scrapbook with an old-fashioned looking script, pictures, photographs, copies of letters and other documents, is a refreshing new look at the life of one of America's greatest men; we are able to marvel and sometimes smile at the things Benjamin Franklin did and said. Surely such a lover of books would be proud of this one. 2003, Atheneum, $19.95 Ages 10 to 14. Reviewer: Marya Jansen-Gruber (Children's Literature).
Best Books:
   Best Books for Young Adults, 2004; American Library Association-YALSA; United States
   Best Children's Books, 2003; Publisher's Weekly; United States
   Best Children's Books of the Year, 2004; Bank Street College of Education; United States
   Capitol Choices, 2004; The Capitol Choices Committee; United States
   Children's Catalog, Eighteenth Edition, Supplement, 2004; H.W. Wilson
   The Children's Literature Choice List, 2004; Children's Literature; United States
   Choices, 2004; Cooperative Children's Book Center; United States
   Great Middle School Reads, 2004; ALSC American Library Association; United States
   Middle and Junior High School Library Catalog, Ninth Edition, 2005; H.W. Wilson; United States
   Middle and Junior High School Library Catalog, Supplement to the Eighth Edition, 2004, 2004; H.W. Wilson; United States
   Notable Children's Books, 2004; American Library Association-ALSC; United States
   Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People, 2004; National Council for the Social Studies; United States
   Publishers Weekly Book Review Stars, August 18, 2003; Cahners; United States
   School Library Journal Book Review Stars, September 2003; Cahners; United States
   School Library Journal: Best Books, 2003; Cahners; United States
Awards, Honors, Prizes:
   James Madison Book Award Honor Book 2004 United States
   Jefferson Cup Award Honor Book 2004 United States
   Parent's Choice Award Recommended 2003 Non-Fiction United States
State and Provincial Reading Lists:
   Great Lakes Great Book Award, 2005; Nominee; Grades 6-8; Michigan
Standards of Learning Information
   Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People, 2004; Individual Development and Identity-IV; Civic Ideals and Practices-X; Individual Development and Identity-IV; Biography; National Council for the Social Studies
ISBN: 0-689-83549-3

Ben Franklin's Big Shock
Judith Jango-Cohen
Illustrations by Kevin Lepp
   Franklin had been studying electricity for some time by 1792. He could create electricity and store it in a glass-and-metal Leyden jar. He had done experiments to discover which materials were good conductors of electricity (metal and water) and which ones would slow or block the current (glass, silk, feathers). He was convinced that lightening was electricity and he was trying to figure out a way to prove his theory. He decided to make a kite of silk and cedar wood. During the next storm, he and his twenty-one-year-old son took the kite and a key and ran to a nearby barn. They got the kite into the air and then felt the metal key. At first they were disappointed. Then they felt the weak electrical shock. Franklin was elated. He immediately constructed a lightening rod for his own home and after proving its worth there, he made rods for many other buildings in Philadelphia. Colorful pictures depict Franklin as an active older man with gray hair and spectacles. A glossary, a list of suggestions for further reading, and some recommended web sites will enable young researchers to find further information. A nice addition for primary school units on electricity and how it works. This is part of the "On My Own Science" series. 2006, Millbrook Press, $23.93. Ages 6 to 10. Reviewer: Phyllis Kennemer, Ph.D. (Children's Literature).
ISBN: 978-1-5750-5873-3
ISBN: 1-5750-5873-1

Benjamin Franklin
Susan R. Gregson
   This engaging and easy-to-read addition to the "Let Freedom Ring" series describes the life, times, and contributions of Benjamin Franklin, scientist, writer, inventor, statesman, and patriot. Chapter One contains an introductory overview of Franklin's many talents. Chapter Two traces his upbringing, from his humble but happy home life to his unhappy apprenticeship with his brother, a Boston printer, to his creation of his own print shop and marriage to Deborah Read Rogers. Chapter Three delineates Franklin's personal ideology and subsequent social endeavors. Included are excerpts from Poor Richard's Almanac, a description of Franklin's creation of the first public library, and a list of his many inventions that made life in colonial times that much easier. The fourth chapter addresses Franklin's political views and role in the American quest for independence. We learn of his many diplomatic trips abroad, his work with Thomas Jefferson in the writing of the Declaration of Independence, and his ability to draw France into the war on the side of the colonists. The final chapter tells of his involvement with the creation of the United States Constitution despite his failing health. The textual details demonstrate how Franklin's claim that "well done is better than well said" defines him and his place in American history. The text includes illustrations and photographs throughout, as well as related tidbits for curious readers (information about how to make soap, apprenticeships, the printing press, and so forth). Contact information for several places of interest (such as the American Philosophical Society and Library and the Franklin statue), and related Internet sites are helpful as well. 2002, Bridgestone/Capstone Press, $22.60. Ages 8 to 16. Reviewer: Wendy Glenn, Ph.D. (Children's Literature).
ISBN: 0736810315

Benjamin Franklin
Jennifer Blizin Gillis
   Benjamin Franklin is one of the best known of America's founding fathers, but you might enjoy learning a bit more about his childhood. He had 16 brothers and sisters; he left school at 12 and was apprenticed to his brother, a printer; at 17 he ran away to Philadelphia where he eventually started his own printing shop. And this was just the beginning of his long and extraordinarily rich life! This biography is part of the "Lives and Times" series, which cover the lives of famous people. The short account of the life of Ben Franklin--almost picture book in format with large print text and colorful illustrations on every page--is entertaining, educational and written for the youngest readers. Words highlighted in bold are defined in the glossary. And kids will readily understand the definitions for words such as colony or peace treaty. At the end of the book readers will find a Fact File (Franklin started the first library where people could borrow books), a glossary, a list of more books to read and an index. 2004, Heinemann Library/Reed Elsevier, $22.79. Ages 5 to 7. Reviewer: Anita Barnes Lowen (Children's Literature).
ISBN: 1403453241
ISBN: 1403453322

Benjamin Franklin
Jack Kelly
Illustrations by Ortiz Tafalla
   Reading this biography, young readers will be captivated by the story of his life and accomplishments. The text is easy to read and understand because it is not a factual list of information, but a narrative on his life. Young readers will learn many new things that are perhaps not covered in textbooks or classroom units. Some things that he is credited for are the Franklin stove, first mail delivery system, establishing the first volunteer fire department, and following a vegetarian diet. All his life, Benjamin Franklin was naturally curious and a learner. He was a voracious reader and had excellent writing skills, which should not come as a surprise due to the important historical documents that he helped write: the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. The illustrations that accompany the text are friendly for the young reader. This biography includes a page of important dates in his life. 2005 (orig. 1990), Abdo Publishing Company, $21.35. Ages 8 to 12. Reviewer: Rosa Roberts (Children's Literature).
ISBN: 1-5967-9257-4

Benjamin Franklin
Janet Riehecky
   Like other Raintree Biographies, this one tells the story of the life of an individual of extraordinary achievement. Readers will learn not just the facts--the "whens, wheres, and whats"--but also the reasons why. The contents of the book are clear about what is included--Benjamin Franklin's whole life is covered from childhood to his legacy. Chapters include Helping His Country, Childhood In Boston, A Printer and a Writer, A Successful Publisher, Scientist and Inventor, Franklin the Philosopher, Public Servant and Diplomat, Franklin In England, Declaring Independence, Helping His Country In France, The Treaty of Paris, Approving the Constitution, The Legacy of Benjamin Franklin. These great chapters are well illustrated with historical documents and contain inserts of explanation about the times. There is a timeline in the back that is tremendously helpful with putting things in perspective. A glossary helps with pronunciation. A Further Reading and Information section lists appropriate level books and videos. There is also an index that is always helpful for children to look up information and facts. The book cover is perfect, so that it will not be a problem trying to find a book about Franklin. This book should be a first choice for school and public libraries. 2003, Raintree/Steck-Vaughn Publishers, $25.70. Ages 8 to 10. Reviewer: Naomi Butler (Children's Literature).
ISBN: 0-7398-5675-8

Benjamin Franklin
Tom Streissguth
   The exciting and interesting life of Benjamin Franklin is explored in this book from the "Just the Facts Biographies" series. Chapter one, "The Famous Doctor Franklin," describes Franklin's appearance in the French court as an ambassador for the American leaders during the Revolutionary War. The book then backtracks to describe Franklin's family and early life. Chapter two, "Making His Fortune," explains how the young adult Franklin started working at a printing press and built a successful printing and publishing business in Philadelphia. Chapter three, "Franklin of Philadelphia," describes how Franklin was appointed deputy postmaster for North America and his experiments with electricity. Chapter four, "A Mission in Britain," describes Franklin's involvement in the events that lead to the Revolutionary War. Chapter five, "More Trouble in the Colonies," describes how Franklin was accused of trickery and dishonesty by the British government. Chapter six, "Shots Heard 'Round the World," explains Franklin's involvement in the American Revolution. Chapter seven, "Working for a New Nation," describes how Franklin helped form American government as we know it today. Chapter eight, "A Last Journey Home," describes the last few years of Franklin's life and his death. This book is an excellent resource on Benjamin Franklin. It contains facts, but it also is told in almost historical novel style at times, which keeps the reader interested. Numerous photographs and reproductions of paintings accent this work of nonfiction. 2005, Lerner Publications, $27.93. Ages 8 up. Reviewer: Amie Rose Rotruck (Children's Literature).
ISBN: 0-8225-2210-1

Benjamin Franklin: An American Genius
Kay Melchisedech Olson
Illustrated by Barabara Schulz and Gordon Purcell
   This biography of Benjamin Franklin divides his life into four sections or chapters. It begins with his early days as a child learning his family's businesses--both his parents' candle making and his brother's printing press. The text then goes on to his time as an inventor. This section describes some of the important inventions he created and ways he tried to improve on the then current systems such as the postal service. Other chapters are concerned with Franklin as a patriot and a statesman discussing his going to England to oppose the tax laws being passed, penning the Declaration of Independence, meeting with the French king in order to fund the Revolutionary War, co-writing the United States Constitution, and leading Pennsylvania for three years. The book ends with Franklin's death in 1790. With its colorful illustrations--formatted in a comic book style--this book will especially appeal to boys. It is packed full of facts both directly stated and implied in the comic-style speaking bubbles for the characters. This book is a "Graphic Biography" title in Capstone's "Graphic Library" series. 2006, Capstone Press, $25.26. Ages 9 to 12. Reviewer: Angela Olkey (Children's Literature).
ISBN: 0-7368-4629-8

Benjamin Franklin: Inventor and Patriot
Carin T. Ford
   This book is part of a new series, "Famous Inventors," that has been created to provide detailed information about inventors who have made a significant impact on the world. Young readers will enjoy reading the wealth of information that is provided about Benjamin Franklin, better known as Ben in this easy-to-read, reliable biography. From a very early age, Ben loved to learn and used his imagination to create and build many inventions. Readers will discover how Ben also made a huge impact as a governmental figure for the 13 Colonies during the earliest years of the United States by working as a diplomat, editor of the Declaration of Independence, and later as Governor of Pennsylvania. Benjamin Franklin is a person who lived his life to fullest in every possible way, and thanks to all of his hard work and the many different inventions and discoveries that he made, today's society still reaps many benefits. Each chapter is full of color illustrations with detailed captions. Included are a detailed timeline, table of contents, glossary, suggestions for additional reading, Web sites, and an index. This fact-filled, enjoyable read is a great book to use in the classroom and/or library as well as being a quality tool for research and report writing. 2003, Enslow Publishers, $17.95. Ages 6 to 10. Reviewer: Christy Oestreich (Children's Literature).
ISBN: 0-7660-1859-8

Benjamin Franklin: A Man of Many Talents
The editors of Time for kids with Kathryn Hoffman Satterfield
   Benjamin Franklin was a dreamer and a man with practical ideas. He was always searching for ways to improve people's lives and from inventing bifocal glasses and the lightning rod to creating America's first public library, Benjamin Franklin succeeded. This title covers his life and inventions starting with training with his brother as a printer, opening his own print shop in Philadelphia, publishing Poor Richard's Almanack, forming a volunteer fire brigade, becoming the Philadelphia postmaster, conducting lightning experiments, being elected to the Second Continental Congress, going to France, to helping write the Constitution. Each of these events are separated into chapters which are enriched with timelines, illustrations, historical proceedings, and some current references. Side panels help with facts, dates, interpretations, and current references. Benjamin Franklin's revolutionary ideas about democracy--as well as his ability to work for the common good--live on in the United States. Time's "For Kids Biographies" series has truly created biographies that make a connection between the lives of past heroes and the events of today. They are quick and good looks at America's country-building personalities. 2005, HarperCollins Publisher, $14.99. Ages 7 to 9. Reviewer: Naomi Butler (Children's Literature).
ISBN: 0-06-057610-3
ISBN: 0-06-057609-X

Benjamin Franklin: Printer, Scientist, Author, and Diplomat
Ann Heinrichs
   This interesting overview of one our nation's founders is part of the "Spirit of America" series sponsored by The Child's World. Filled with fun and quirky facts about Franklin, readers young and old are sure to discover something new about this historical figure that they never knew before. For instance, did you know that he was inducted posthumously into the International Swimming Hall of Fame for his how-to manual on swimming? Also, did you know that visitors to his grave throw pennies on the tombstone in remembrance of his "A penny saved is a penny earned." saying? Readers will also be reminded of his more memorable contributions to our country's founding, such as signing the Declaration of Independence and representing Pennsylvania as a delegate to the first Constitutional Convention. His contributions to science and literature are also highlighted. A helpful glossary, timeline, and further research section provide additional resources for learning more about this founding father. 2004, The Child's World, $28.50. Ages 10 up. Reviewer: Sheree Van Vreede (Children's Literature).
ISBN: 1-59296-173-8

Benjamin Franklin: Scientist, Inventor, Printer and Statesman
Hal Marcovitz
   Many books have been written about Benjamin Franklin, an American icon, and some are more readable and enjoyable than others. Happily Hal Marcovitz has an engaging writing style and still manages to cram in a lot of facts about this great man's life in a book of less than 200 pages. He takes a chronological approach and kids may be amazed to learn that this scientist, inventor, printer and statesman had less than three years of formal schooling. But what he did have was an insatiable desire to learn, to increase his vocabulary, writing skills and knowledge of how things work. It was amusing to read about his bed sharing experience with John Adams who had a cold and Franklin's belief that germs not cold air were responsible for the malady. Along with the facts of Franklin's life, Marcovitz intersperse these kinds of details to let readers see the more human side of Franklin. Also since this is a book geared to the classroom, at the end of each chapter there are a series of questions-"Test You Knowledge" multiple choice questions with answers. They reinforce what has been presented. The text is accompanied by drawing and other illustrations to make it more appealing. Some facts were new to me such as Franklins development of a mathematical puzzle called a magic square. Given the current Sudoku craze kids may find this puzzle of Franklin's quite interesting. The book concludes with a chronology and timeline, notes that are associated with the footnote numbers and a reasonably comprehensive bibliography and list of further readings, comprehensive index, picture credits and a brief blurb about the author. A very readable entry in the "Leaders of the American Revolution" series. 2006, Chelsea House, Ages 8 to 15, $30.00. Reviewer: Marilyn Courtot (Children's Literature).
ISBN: 0-7910-9219-4
ISBN: 978-0-7910-9219-4

Benjamin Franklin: Scientist and Statesman
Brenda Haugen and Andrew Santella
   The fifteenth of his father's seventeen children, Benjamin Franklin distinguished himself early on as a determined person with a love of reading and learning. After an unhappy stint working in his father's candle-making shop, Ben apprenticed in the print shop of his brother James. The work made Ben strong of mind and body--he was exposed to a large amount of printed materials at his brother's shop, and lifting the parts of the printing press was heavy work. He left Boston as soon as he could, and moved to Philadelphia. He made a name for himself there, not only as a printer, but also as someone deeply-engaged in the community. Ben Franklin helped establish the first fire insurance company, as well as the first fire-fighting companies. Retiring from printing at the age of 42, he gave himself over to scientific curiosity. He invented a variety of items from the highly-efficient Franklin stove to the glass harmonica, and he explored the nature of electricity. Then, he was drawn into politics. Ben argued in Parliament against excessive taxation of the colonies, but as more taxes were passed, he returned to America. He supported the American cause and worked closely with Thomas Jefferson on the Declaration of Independence. He was active diplomatically for many years, including a stint in France at Congress' direction, before returning to his beloved Philadelphia. This biography is in the visually-appealing "Signature Lives" series. The many pictures complement the author's account of this compelling life. 2005, Compass Point Books, $30.60. Ages 10 to 14. Reviewer: Heidi Hauser Green (Children's Literature).
ISBN: 0-7565-0826-6

Benjamin Franklin--Printer, Inventor, Statesman
David A. Adler
Illustrated by Lyle Miller
   This biography explores Franklin's world and the changes he brought about with just the right amount of detail. Pen and ink drawings illustrate the highlights, most of which are taken from his own autobiography. Any study of Ben Franklin correlates perfectly with history, literature, political and physical science for readers in the upper elementary grades. 1992, Holiday House, $15.95. Ages 5 to 8. Reviewer: Deborah Zink Roffino (Children's Literature).
ISBN: 0-8234-0929-5

Benjamin Franklin: Writer, Inventor, Statesman
Pamela Hill Nettleton
Illustrated by Jeff Yesh
   This biography focuses on Benjamin Franklin's life, revealing the famous hero from a child's viewpoint and satisfying young reader's curiosity. The text provides a chronological dialogue of historical events with full-color, double-page illustrations. Clear, crisp black or white type alternates from page to page to contrast with background hues. Young bookworms will appreciate brief paragraphs packed with information. Scattered throughout the pages are smaller typeface morsels offering more detailed information about the protagonist. However, in many instances, their presence is irrelevant to the discussion on specific pages, detracting from the story's rhythm and content. An introduction, timeline, glossary, and index add details to the storyline. The reading experience is enriched with additional resources and includes a list of quality book titles, Web sites, and trivia listed under "Did You Know." Illustrations by Jeff Yesh are rendered digitally. Facial characteristics appear unnatural and distorted, taking away the authenticity of the people's features. The book is available in reinforced library binding that will withstand the demand of frequent circulation. Balanced treatment provides valuable information for primary students despite the uncomplimentary character images. Add another kid-friendly book title, Benjamin Franklin by Ingri and Edgar D'Aulaire, as a springboard for bringing history to life about the man often called "the harmonious human multitude." 2004, Picture Window Books, $21.26. Ages 5 to 8.
ISBN: 1-4048-0186-3

Benjamin Franklin and Electricity
Gail Blasser Riley
   This picture book biography is fast-paced and entertaining. The book opens with an anecdote and then goes into Franklin's interest in electricity. Description of his early life follows. He was the fifteenth of seventeen children. Benjamin's father wanted him to become a minister, but he couldn't afford to send him to school. At the age of ten, Benjamin was put to work in the family store, making candles and soap. Eventually, Benjamin was able to work in a print shop as an apprentice, but he was unhappy with this job. Benjamin loved to read and write, so he wrote essays and poetry. Franklin then decided to head to Philadelphia where he went to work for another printer and then opened his own shop. Franklin was always interested in science and how things worked. He tried his hand at invention. He invented the Franklin stove, bifocals, and a musical instrument called an armonica. In 1774, Franklin began his own experiments with electricity. He created electrical charges with a spinning glass tube. He also developed one of the first electric batteries. But his most famous experiment was when he decided to fly a kit in a thunder and lightning storm. Franklin was convinced that lightning and electricity were the same when electricity flowed through the metal rod and the kite string into the brass key where it stopped. Benjamin Franklin's experiments advanced the understanding of how electricity works. He also placed his signature on the Declaration of Independence. He died at the age of eighty four. A nice variety of illustrations are included as well as a timeline, glossary, and online sites. This book is part of the "Cornerstones of Freedom" series. 2004, Children's Press, $25.00. Ages 8 to 12. Reviewer: Della A. Yannuzzi (Children's Literature).
ISBN: 0-516-24240-7

The Benjamin Franklin You Never Knew
James Lincoln Collier
   This biography chronicles all of the major accomplishments and incidents of Benjamin Franklin's life, along with several minor incidents and anecdotes. Benjamin Franklin was the first American to be well known not only in the colonies but also in Europe. He demanded much respect in his day not only from his fellow Americans but from the French and British too. This book emphasizes his professional and political life over his personal, but there is a chapter devoted to his childhood and also some mention of his wife and children. Young readers might be surprised to discover the numerous and varied accomplishments of Benjamin Franklin. He wrote and published one the most popular newspapers of his day. He published numerous articles and books that were very well received, like Poor Richard's Almanac. He was an infinitely curious and inventive man, and his studies with electricity led to an understanding that lightening is a form of electricity, and also led to the invention of the lightening rod. His political influence was broad and powerful; he was the chief negotiator with both Britain and France during the years of turmoil before the American colonies won their independence during the Revolutionary War. This book is an excellent resource for students or young readers interested in learning about Benjamin Franklin, significant figures of American history, or famous inventors. 2004, Children's Press/Scholastic, $24.50. Ages 8 up. Reviewer: Jennifer Chambliss (Children's Literature).
ISBN: 0-516-24427-2

A Dangerous Engine: Benjamin Franklin, From Scientist to Diplomat
Joan Dash
Pictures by Duésan Petriéciâc
   For eighty-four years the mind of Benjamin Franklin operated like a vital engine continuously searching for information. A pioneering scientist, inventor, author, and diplomat Benjamin Franklin led an exceptionally productive life. Yet, despite the many accomplishments that Franklin achieved he also demonstrated human frailties in relationships and life. Joan Dash does a splendid job of chronicling the life and times of this brilliant and irreverent American. She does a particularly fine job of capturing the personality of Benjamin Franklin--he comes alive in all his strengths and weaknesses. Readers will meet a man who certainly combined great intelligence with a practical mindset. Franklin was a man who knew how to enjoy life's rewards, while also tirelessly working in pursuit of knowledge that often gave him no financial return. Franklin was also a man who made enemies. For example, John Adams who served with Franklin overseas respected his intelligence but loathed his moral conduct. Also, Franklin showed an unforgiving side in terms of his rapport with his only son William, whom he disavowed after a parting of the ways during the Revolutionary War. This biography is a well written and thoughtful look at the life of an uncommon American. The enjoyable narrative is augmented by Dusan Petricic's lighthearted illustrations. This is a solid biography and one that youngsters interested in science or American history will find useful. 2006, Farrar Strauss Giroux, $17.00. Ages 12 up. Reviewer: Greg M. Romaneck (Children's Literature).
Best Books:
   Kirkus Book Review Stars, Dec. 15, 2005; United States
State and Provincial Reading Lists:
   Pennsylvania Young Reader's Choice Award, 2006-2007; Nominee; Grades 6-8; United States
ISBN: 0-374-30669-9

A Great Improvisation; Franklin, France, and the Birth of America
Stacy Schiff; Read by Susan Denaker
   This exquisite narrative account, well researched and vividly presented, of Benjamin Franklin's mission to France on behalf of a newly formed nation of 13 states begins: "In December of 1776, a small boat delivered an old man to France..." Franklin had no formal diplomatic training, spoke little French and was often looked upon with suspicion. However, what he lacked in statesmanship he more than made up for with a genial personality, a gift of gab and an aura of wit and charisma. Furthermore, it didn't hurt that many also looked upon him as a man of great genius and inventiveness. Arriving back home in 1785, the ailing Franklin, who had done so much for his country in what should be remembered as his finest hour, was actually greeted with little more than cool civility. This book provides insight into the man and the political and cultural climate in which he lived. Denaker reads in a straight-on lecture style that fits this story. For students of history, or anyone desirous of more information on the birth and growing pains of our new nation and how that "old man" fit into the scheme of things. Category: Nonfiction Audiobooks. KLIATT Codes: SA--Recommended for senior high school students, advanced students, and adults. 2005, Books on Tape., 18 cds. 22 hrs.; Vinyl; content notes., $112.00. Ages 15 to adult. Reviewer: Miles Klein (KLIATT Review, September 2005 (Vol. 39, No. 5)).
ISBN: 1-4159-1983-6

How Ben Franklin Stole the Lightning
Rosalyn Schanzer
   This is a charming biography of the man who invented the lightning rod and other practical things we use every day. Many of his contributions to society are mentioned--a hospital, a free academy and a fire department, along with the post office and the first lending library. Wonderfully illustrated in bright colors with a cartoon style, this book has many details for a child to investigate and enough words on each page to give a lot of information and time for children to discover the humor in each picture. Franklin's lesser known legacies are identified, such as a library chair and the first clock with a second hand. "A Note from the Author" explains more. The end papers show some of Franklin's original drawings of electrical experiments along with our cheerful hero. This book is a wonderful combination of information and engaging artwork. It will be very useful in primary classrooms and public libraries. 2003, HarperCollins Publishers, $16.99. Ages 5 to 10. Reviewer: Candace Deisley (Children's Literature).

   Local(Metropolitan Washington, DC) author/illustrator Rosalyn Schanzer tells the rip-roaring story of another Founding Father in How Ben Franklin Stole the Lightning. Ben was a Renaissance man par excellence. He helped write the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States. He started the first lending library in the United States and invented the odometer, bifocals and a tuneful glass armonica. But, as Schanzer tells us, Ben is best remembered for "stealing electric fire out of the heavens" with a kite, a silk ribbon and a key. By proving that lightning was electricity, this consummate inventor could then create the lightning rod to protect houses and ships from being struck and destroyed by lightning. Schanzer's bright illustrations and witty language combine in a charming portrait of this larger-than-life, good-humored man. 2003, HarperCollins, $16.99. Ages 6 to 10. Reviewer: Mary Quattlebaum (Children's Literature).
Best Books:
   Capitol Choices, 2004; The Capitol Choices Committee; United States
   Children's Choices, 2004; International Reading Association; United States
   The Children's Literature Choice List, 2004; Children's Literature; United States
   Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People, 2004; National Council for the Social Studies; United States
   Publishers Weekly Book Review Stars, November 25, 2002; Cahners; United States
   Teachers' Choices , 2004; International Reading Association; United States
Awards, Honors, Prizes:
   Bill Martin Jr. Picture Book Award Nominee 2004 United States
State and Provincial Reading Lists:
   Delaware Diamonds, 2004-2005; Nominee; Grades 3-5; Delaware
   Garden State Children's Book Award, 2006; Nominee; Non-Fiction; New Jersey
   Sequoyah Book Award, 2006; Nominee; Children's Book; Oklahoma
Standards of Learning Information
   Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People, 2004; Individuals, Groups, and Institutions-V; Science, Technology, and Society-VIII; Biography; National Council for the Social Studies
ISBN: 0-688-16993-7
ISBN: 0-688-16994-5

The Life of Benjamin Franklin: An American Original
Yona Zeldis McDonough
Paintings by Malcah Zeldis
   McDonough and Zeldis offer a very readable, engrossing introduction to this important figure in American history. They trace his life from childhood through his schooling, his apprenticeship in his brother's print shop, and the start of his writing career. He begins his own printing business, starts a family, writes Poor Richard's Almanack, establishes the country's first lending library, a volunteer fire department, and an academy which becomes the University of Pennsylvania. As postmaster he sets up mail routes. He explores electricity and makes many scientific advances. Politics takes over his life during the Revolution; he travels to France for the cause. He even tries to outlaw slavery before his much-mourned death. Zeldis creates intensely colored gouache paintings in a folk-like style, detailing some of the settings of this rather lengthy biography. She depicts his association with both historic and personal events. We are shown his successful use of lightning rods on town buildings, for example, as well as a full-length portrait of him playing the violin. Also included are a time line of his life, a list of some of his inventions, some sayings from Poor Richard's Almanack, and a bibliography. 2006, Henry Holt and Company, $17.95. Ages 5 to 9. Reviewers: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz (Children's Literature).
ISBN: 978-0-8050-7856-5
ISBN: 0-8050-7856-8

John, Paul, George & Ben
Lane Smith
   The Founding Fathers were wee lads once upon a time and by sharing tales from their youth, Lane Smith makes history more fascinating than one can imagine. Paul Revere was not born with that booming voice, you know. John Hancock's superb penmanship became obvious in grade school. And young Ben Franklin was spouting pithy sayings before he was out of knickers. This book is hilarious from start to finish as it plays with the myths we have about these men. Rest assured, the back matter tells the truth about the stories ("Taking Liberties: Wherein we set the record straight with ye olde True or False section") so history emerges unscathed. The design of the book is perfection from the flyleaf to the notes at the end. Smith's use of varied media creates an illusion of a crackled veneer associated with the time period. History should never be dull and, believe me, it is not here. 2006, Hyperion, $16.99. Ages 7 to 10. Reviewer: Joan Kindig, Ph.D. (Children's Literature).
ISBN: 0-7868-4893-6

Now & Ben: The Modern Inventions of Benjamin Franklin
Gene Barretta
   Barretta's appreciation of this iconic figure of American history connects our life today with Franklin's creations from over two hundred years ago. "Ben" was the first, for example, to print a political cartoon in America. Our bifocals were designed by him, as were lightning rods, "Grabbers" to extend our reach, swimming flippers, many kinds of chairs, even daylight saving time and odometers. In brief, clear sentences Barretta contrasts "Now" with "Ben," including Franklin's scientific discoveries and his organization of a library, post office, and fire and sanitation departments. Franklin here gets his due. Opposing pages match current practices with those of Ben's time. Watercolor scenes depict the characters in a light-hearted, humorous manner in somewhat detailed settings focusing on the inventions. The double title page depicting modern day Philadelphia's waterfront merging with a similar colonial period scene, including Ben on the deck of a ship, is eye-catching, informative, and sets the mood for the visual narrative to come. Sketches of Ben's many creations enliven the end-papers. 2006, Henry Holt and Company, $16.95. Ages 4 to 8. Reviewers: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz (Children's Literature).
ISBN: 978-0-8050-7917-3
ISBN: 0-8050-7917-3

Qwerty Stevens, Stuck in Time with Benjamin Franklin
Dan Gutman
   Seventh-grader Qwerty Stevens is a whiz when it comes to computers and electronics, but sometimes he is a little forgetful about other things, like his big history project. As he scrambles to put together a report on the American Revolution before school starts, Qwerty scans a portrait of Benjamin Franklin to include as an illustration. Too late, he realizes that his computer is hooked up to the Anytime Anywhere Machine that he discovered in his previous adventures. Without meaning to, he brings one of the Founding Fathers into the twenty-first century! Franklin, the inveterate scientist and inventor, is fascinated by everything from airplanes to traffic lights. Franklin dazzles Qwerty's social studies class, and when he decides to return to July 4, 1776, Qwerty and his history-buff friend Joey decide to go back in time with him. The two boys are excited to be witnesses to history until they realize they have been trailed by inept criminal Ashley Quadrel, who threatens to destroy the Declaration of Independence and change the last 225 years of American history. Quadrel's bumbling schemes and Qwerty's funny observations on eighteenth-century life make the accompanying history lessons go down smoothly. Black-and-white photographs, a timeline, and a list of notable accomplishments in Franklin's career all make the novel useful, beyond being just a humorous time-travel adventure. The novel could be used successfully as a lighthearted lead-in or follow-up to a middle-school unit on colonial America or the American Revolution. 2002, Simon & Schuster, $16.95. Ages 9 to 12. Reviewer: Norah Piehl (Children's Literature).
State and Provincial Reading Lists:
   Young Hoosier Book Award, 2004-2005; Nominee; Grades 4-6; Indiana
ISBN: 0-689-84553-7

The Remarkable Benjamin Franklin
Cheryl Harness
   Harness has packed a lot of valuable information into this picture book biography of Benjamin Franklin. She begins with his birth 300 years ago as the tenth child of a hardworking soap and candle maker. Although his formal education was cut short, Franklin offers an exemplary example of a lifelong learner. At age twelve, he began an apprenticeship in a printing shop and was soon moved to become a writer himself. Franklin's travels to Philadelphia and to England set the tone for his life of adventure and invention. Most of the text focuses on Franklin's key contributions as a founding father of our country. His involvement in the French and Indian War was followed by a second trip to England. This time he served as an eloquent spokesman for the colonies. He returned home in time to assist with and sign The Declaration of Independence. Then he took off for France to solicit help for the Revolutionary War. He was nearing eighty-years of age when he returned to the new nation that he had helped create. He then participated in the Constitutional Convention. He proudly signed the document that has served this country well for over two hundred years. Full-color paintings cover most pages, with succinct text appearing in bordered boxes. Each page features a quotation from Franklin's own writings, including his autobiography, various essays, and Poor Richard's Almanac. An excellent source of information about this truly remarkable man. 2005, National Geographic, $17.95. Ages 7 to 12. Reviewer: Phyllis Kennemer, Ph.D. (Children's Literature).
Best Books:
   Booklist Book Review Stars , Mar. 1, 2006; United States
   Top 10 Youth Biographies, 2006; American Library Association-Booklist; United States
State and Provincial Reading Lists:
   Pennsylvania Young Reader's Choice Award, 2006-2007; Nominee; Grades 3-6; United States
ISBN: 0-7922-7882-8
ISBN: 0-7922-7884-4

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Added 7/26/2006


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