Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Who's Benjamin Franklin?

Benjamin Franklin has always fascinated me. A Founding Father of the United States, he possessed a vast array of talents as an author, printer, politician, inventor, scientist, and soldier. One of the first introductions to Ben Franklin that we bought for our kids was the Step Into Reading book below. I generally think of those books as being kind of cheesy, but this one really appealed to Paulie with it's advertisement of *magic*. Paulie has a wide interest in math and the description of mathematical process of the numbered squares and the magical outcome really caught his attention and quickly made Ben Franklin one of his first biography interests. There are several websites, including this one, with more information about Ben Franklin's magic squares if you're interested.

Now & Ben focuses on more of Ben Franklin's inventions, shown in picture book format, with an invention we now take for granted shown beside the idea that Ben came up with to facilitate the invention. A nice synopsis for the slightly younger set to familiarize them with the enormous amount of inventions we have now because of Ben's ideas.

{timeline of Ben's inventions}

Ben and Me is more of a tongue-in-cheek biography, to use that word loosely, of Ben Franklin and his pet mouse, Amos. The story is told from Amos's point of view, and according to Amos, most of Ben's inventions came largely from Amos's ideas. Although some critics don't appreciate the way the writer makes Ben sound less than intelligent and the mouse sound sometimes derisive toward his master, I really appreciated the more humorous approach to the historical telling of Ben Franklin's inventions. I also liked the language of the book, which was kind of typical of the 1930s when the book was written, and the more robust vocabulary than you often find in current children's biographies.

{inventing the Franklin stove}

{sending poor Amos up on the ill-fated kite flight}


  1. you need to check out "John, Paul, George & Ben" by Lane Smith too

  2. Did you know he wore a coonskin cap in the Parisian court as a way of making them think all colonists were ignorant rubes, thereby carrying on all sorts of espionage? Slick fella, that Ben Franklin!

  3. How timely! Zach was just going on about BF yesterday. He loves the idea of "playing with electricity" (oy) and wanted to know more about the famed kite scenario. We found this web site http://www.pbs.org/benfranklin/exp_shocking.html
    which had some fun interactive electricity experiments that don't result in burning down your house or frying your kid. :)
    Thank you for these -- they will go on the library list!

  4. I just love this blog!! Great ideas for EMily. :)

  5. Ditto Joy's Brother! Here is a link to the Lane Smith Book: http://www.indiebound.org/book/9780786848935

    Great Blog!

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