From School Library Journal
Grade 2-5–A clever, concise introduction to the contributions of this colorful colonial figure. The first spread depicts Franklin standing proudly by his family home with his wife and children smiling from within. His various occupations–writer, printer, diplomat, musician, humorist, postmaster, scientist, inventor, humanitarian–are written on the cobblestones beneath him. Next is a spread of a busy city street today, which challenges readers to guess which modern conveniences are owed to the subjects creativity. Subsequent spreads take a closer look at each invention from political cartoons, bifocals, electricity, lightning rod, and Franklin stove to daylight saving time and more. Each spread features a Now… description of a modern concept or convenience facing an early Ben… idea. Now…every automobile has an odometer to measure the distance it travels. Ben…invented the odometer when he was postmaster general so he could measure his postal routes. The fanciful final spread depicts a futuristic scene with flying-saucer vehicles and robot servers, which encourages youngsters to imagine how todays inventions will evolve in time. Engaging and humorous watercolor cartoons depict just how Franklins inventions were conceived and developed. The yellow mottled endpapers are filled with sketches of the inventions featured within. Both Alikis The Many Lives of Benjamin Franklin
(S & S, 1988) and Rosalyn Schanzers How Ben Franklin Stole the Lightning
(HarperCollins, 2003) offer more background and biographical information, though this lively offering is sure to inspire readers to learn more about its fascinating subject.—Barbara Auerbach, New York City Public Schools
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
An authorial debut for illustrator Barretta, Now & Ben
aims at the youngest readers, limiting its purview to Franklin as a slightly tubby, jolly inventor and innovator. Each left-hand page describes and illustrates one of Franklin's contributions as we know it ("Now . . . our newspapers are filled with illustrations"); the opposite page goes back in time to reveal the Franklin connection ("Ben . . . was the first to print a political cartoon in America"). Most young children won't grasp the play on the phrase now and then
but will zero in instead on the well-chosen examples, which include bifocals and lightning rods as well as lesser-known notions (a rocking chair that churned butter!), all appealingly rendered in Barretta's relaxed, cartoonlike watercolors. This will be a punchy read-aloud to lighten up American history units, though teachers wanting more details will need to look elsewhere as the book's biographical context is scattershot and no end matter is provided. Jennifer MattsonCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved