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Now & Ben: The Modern Inventions of Benjamin Franklin Hardcover – March 7, 2006


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 5 - 9 years
  • Grade Level: Kindergarten - 4
  • Lexile Measure: 910L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 36 pages
  • Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR); First Edition edition (March 7, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805079173
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805079173
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 0.4 x 10.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #377,838 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

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.

From Booklist

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 Mattson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Customer Reviews

This book has great illustrations.
L. Mielcarek
This book has great illustrations of the inventions of Benjamin Franklin and how they have evolved into our world today.
D. Boan
I would highly recommend this book for kindergarten through third grade.
Independent Thinker

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Anne B. Levy on May 24, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Ben Franklin's probably the #1 subject of picture book biographies that cross my desk. He's picturesque -- both visually and as a bio subject. This is the first book I've chosen to review, however, because of its clever format and quirky execution.

On one side is "Now" -- the modern amenities we take for granted, such as odometers, second hands, bifocals, lightening rods and even public libraries. The "Ben" side shows Franklin puttering, tinkering, and hunkering down over his inventions, which include all of the above, plus charting the Gulf Stream, organizing the Post Office, and all that fun with lightening and kites and stuff.

Such a clever fellow, that Ben!

And that's not even getting into his statesmanship and political thinking, which the author treats lightly to focus on the man's inventive genius.

The "Now" side of the page is perky and vibrant in bright blues, while Franklin's 18th century half is awash in faded siennas, the color of aging documents, except for Ben in his blue coat, creating a visual link between our era and his.

I know from the brief time I lived in a Philly suburb how omnipresent are the many reminders of the man's influence, from Indepedence Hall to the Franklin Museum. The city's infused with awe for the man who was arguably our nuttiest Founding Father. But aren't the oddballs the ones you most want to know?

Like Barretta, a Philly resident, you won't be able to resist getting better acquainted.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Diane Marie Kelly on March 24, 2006
Format: Hardcover
My children (ages 6 - 10) loved the story of Ben Franklin. They enjoyed learning of Ben's inventions and it was fun to talk about how they have evolved over time. The children especially loved the last scene depicting how things will evolve as they grow older. The illustrations and colors on every page were great for the imagination and provided so much insight to every part of the story. Great Job. A+
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By L. Mielcarek on January 7, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book has great illustrations. The students I teach spent time looking through all of the details. The stories are accurate and include a fun sense of humor. Students from grade 4-6 also enjoyed the book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By LonestarReader VINE VOICE on June 14, 2008
Format: Hardcover
As the book opens, the endpapers display a timeline noting Franklin's numerous inventions and progressive ideas.

Barretta's opening illustration depicts Franklin's many roles as a writer, diplomat, printer, musician, postmaster humorist, scientist, inventor, traveler, philosopher, cartoonist, statesman inscribed on cobblestones while Ben stands on the cobblestones, framed in a style reminiscent of the one hundred dollar bill.

The book describes Franklin's inventions and concepts and depicts how those ideas are still in use in the present.

Experiments with lightning lead to the invention of the lightning rod. A store clerk uses the Grabber for grabbing a box of cereal that is out of reach, while on the opposing page Franklin uses his Long Arm to reach a book high on a shelf.

His See Far/See Near became today's bifocals and his improvements to fireplace design helped move smoke out of houses. He designed the first clock with a second hand and as the reader looks at a school bus driver checking the mileage on the odometer and we see Ben's odometer on a cart which was used while he was postmaster general to measure postal routes.

Barretta shares the information with humor. We see an alarm clock buzzing at 6 a.m. with the moon still high in sky while bleary eyed kids struggle to struggle to wake up. Franklin advocated the idea of daylight savings as a means to save candles and gain more daylight for farmers.

Benjamin Franklin is the Founding Father of choice to study in depth here in 5th grade. His extraordinary life lends itself to many areas of the curriculum. This is terrifically engaging nonfiction picture book that would be great fun to share with students.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By B. Goldberg on December 19, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Mr. Barretta offers an abundance of pages that make this book a worthwhile purchase. Properly bound, the hardcover edition is chock-full of finely detailed drawings that will grab your child's attention.

Packed with illustrations and information about Benjamin Franklin, Now & Ben offers readers, both young and older, insight into our nation's most creative Founding Father!

At turns surprising and common sensical, this volume, a generous 40 pages, continues to stimulate and entertain my children (and me!) with Franklin's contributions that permeate our lives daily.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By John W. Koch on January 26, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Great, great book about a very interesting man. For a homeschool unit study we are learning all about Ben Franklin and this has been my kids' (10 and 5) favorite book we have read. The illustrations are just wonderful- you see something new each time you flip through this book. My 10 year old loves the illustrations so much that she is tracing the image of Ben Franklin right now so that she can color him in and include the image in her report!
The book begins with an illustration of Ben in the middle of a modern day city, the book ends with him standing the middle of a futuristic city. This was a great way to show the kids how much things have changed since Ben's time- and how much more they might change in our lifetime. Great book- would love to see more from this very talented author/illustrator. Plan to order his Neo Leo soon!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews


More About the Author

Gene Barretta is an award-winning author and illustrator of several children's books. His awards include The 2007 Carolyn W. Field Award from the Pennsylvania Library Association.
Gene began his career as an illustrator for other authors before releasing his first manuscript in 2006, "Now & Ben: The Modern Inventions of Benjamin Franklin."
Before he entered the publishing world, Gene completed several animated films for Sesame Street and illustrated for the show Between The Lions.
He has also designed characters for The Jim Henson Company.
He currently resides outside of Philadelphia, PA with his wife, Leslie and son, Benjamin.

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