A Ben of All Trades: The Most Inventive Boyhood of Benjamin Franklin

Michael J. Rosen, illus. by Matt Tavares. Candlewick, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-5362-0121-5
Rosen (The Horse’s Haiku) expands a segment of Benjamin Franklin’s childhood to reveal his early motivations and character traits. A straightforward narrative with invented, formal dialogue follows novelty-seeking young Franklin as he tries in vain to convince his father that he’s suitable for a sea-faring life. With the help of a book, he masters swimming techniques and adds his own innovations, such as swim paddles and a kite for additional speed. Tavares (Dasher) creates light-infused, multitextured digital illustrations that depict Franklin’s spirited escapades in colonial Boston and more somber scenes of Franklin trying, and discarding, apprenticeships. “I fear my mind is unsuited for the craft,” he says of candle making and other highly repetitive tasks. An extensive note explains the author’s use of creative license, noting that the largely imagined vignettes are based on Franklin’s autobiography. A brief bibliography concludes this detailed view of a Renaissance man whose young tenacity and eventual work at his sibling’s print shop led to an extraordinarily varied adult life. Ages 5–9. (Mar.)
Reviewed on : 12/12/2019
Release date: 03/17/2020
Genre: Children's
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