The Leather Apron Club: Benjamin Franklin, His Son Billy & America’s First Circulating Library

Jane Yolen, illus. by Wendell Minor. Charlesbridge, $17.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-58089-719-8
Inspired by the life of William “Billy” Franklin, son of Benjamin Franklin, this first-person account conveyed in lengthy free verse opens in Philadelphia, 1739, when rowdy Billy is eight years old; eventually, a new tutor inspires a love of reading, and the elder Franklin allows the younger to bear witness to a meeting of the Leather Apron Club, 12 friends who meet “weekly to discuss issues of morality, philosophy, and politics,” as well as read at the Club’s library, “the first free lending library in the United States,” per an author’s note. Interspersing quotes from Poor Richard’s Almanack, Yolen makes Billy’s emotions relatable to young audiences: “Pappy... has written the best-known Book/ in all of Philadelphia,/ printed on his own Press—/Poor Richard’s Almanack./ It is full of sayings to make people wise,/ though if you ask me, I think it is a little boring.” Muted watercolors by Minor offer sketch-like, realistic white figures in this historical fiction, which may appeal more to adults. Front matter includes a note about capitalizations; back matter includes more historical context and information, as well as an author’s note. Ages 7–10. (Sept.)
Reviewed on : 10/28/2021
Release date: 09/28/2021
Genre: Children's
Book - 978-1-60734-935-8
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