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Gr 4-6-In the 1738 edition of Poor Richard's Almanac, Franklin printed this aphorism: "If you would not be forgotten/As soon as you are dead and rotten,/Either write things worth reading,/Or do things worth the writing." He succeeded admirably, as indicated by the ample catalog of Franklin biographies written for young readers from notables including Jean Fritz, James Cross Giblin, and Candace Fleming. Electric Ben represents a proficient but flawed addition to an already-crowded shelf. Using lucid phrasing and appealing detail, Byrd breaks the main narrative into two-page sections, each roughly related to an episode or subject. Unfortunately, excessive design elements and Byrd's fussy ink-and-watercolor illustrations threaten to overwhelm the informative text. Highlighted aphorisms and spot illustrations peppered throughout each page clutter the design and disrupt the flow of the author's readable account of Franklin's astonishingly fruitful life. The vibrant artwork shifts between intricately rendered tableaux and conceptual illustrations packed with symbols and biographical references, the latter, replete with celestial bodies and waves of energy. Finicky captions, which turn some of the electric-hued pictures into stealth diagrams, offer yet more facts and quotes. Byrd makes a few perplexing choices in his narrative, such as including only minimal mention of Franklin's wife, and identifying his illegitimate son, William, as adopted. In general, while the text may convey the wealth of Franklin's writing-worthy achievements, the visuals prove too frenetic even to capture the boundless energy and creativity of that consummate printer-author-scientist-inventor-statesman.-Robbin E. Friedman, Chappaqua Library, NYα(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
*Starred Review* Large in format and ambitious in scope, this appealingly designed book spotlights Benjamin Franklin and his times. Each double-page spread presents an aspect of Franklin’s life, moving chronologically from Ben’s Beginnings and School Days through The Scientific Amusements and The Natural Philosopher to The American in Paris and Liberty and Justice for All. The topical approach allows for tightly focused discussions exploring facets of this complex man. Introducing him as a scientist, writer, inventor, philosopher, publisher, and statesman, the text clearly communicates a sense of Franklin’s personality along with his varied experiences and accomplishments. As well researched as the text, and often given as much space on the page, the detailed ink-and-watercolor artwork creates a distinctive period look for the book and delivers plenty of historical information visually. Many pictures illustrate scenes literally (colonial firefighters attempt to save a house on fire), but others are more symbolic (Franklin standing atop the earth, surrounded by icons representing his scientific accomplishments). While several illustrations of varied sizes sometimes appear on the same spread, the overall effect is very pleasing. Best suited to advanced individual readers or one-on-one read-aloud sessions, this informative biography offers a vivid, striking portrayal. Grades 2-5. --Carolyn PhelanSee all Editorial Reviews
Informative and beautifully illustrated, this book gives a thorough outline of Franklin's life and achievements in a format easily understood by younger reader.Published 1 month ago by Trish
An excellent book about a real person, good illustrations, perfect for elementary and middle school-age students.Published 1 month ago by Takingtimeouttosay
This picture book biography tells the story of Benjamin Franklin's life through different sections of his life roughly put in a chronological order. Read morePublished 17 months ago by ben meyercord
Still a little advanced for the 5 year it was purchased for. Hope he will enjoy it more in the next few months.Published 18 months ago by JS
Like a bolt of lightning hitting a rod, Electric Ben thrills the reader with its dynamic and informative illustrations and leaves them grounded in solid knowledge and facts about... Read morePublished 20 months ago by Amber Mc.
The book arrived in perfect condition. The signature included a charming drawing of Ben Franklin flying a kite. A pleasant surprise.Published 21 months ago by William Demiene
This book contains many facts and fun illustrations about the life of Benjamin Franklin. It could provide background information for the teacher as well as supply facts to... Read morePublished on August 17, 2013 by Susan Lee Convirs
Bought as a gift for a little boy who loves science-and history. Great combination. Helps our founding fathers seem less daunting and remote.Published on July 25, 2013 by Patricia Blatt