Ben Franklin's Almanac: Being a True Account of the Good Gentleman's Life


"What good shall I do today?"
How Ben Franklin answered that question ? through his work as a writer, printer, statesman, and inventor ? forever established him as one of America's greatest figures. On one day in 1729 he published the first edition of the Pennsylvania Gazette; on another day he changed the Declaration of Independence by adding the famous words, "We hold these truths to be self-evident"; and it was all in a day's work when he ...

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Ben Franklin's Almanac: Being a True Account of the Good Gentleman's Life

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"What good shall I do today?"
How Ben Franklin answered that question — through his work as a writer, printer, statesman, and inventor — forever established him as one of America's greatest figures. On one day in 1729 he published the first edition of the Pennsylvania Gazette; on another day he changed the Declaration of Independence by adding the famous words, "We hold these truths to be self-evident"; and it was all in a day's work when he planted the first willow trees in America.
Modeled on his own Poor Richard's Almanack, this unique scrapbook captures Franklin's countless accomplishments. Biography and anecdote, cartoon and etching mesh to create a fascinating portrait of this most fascinating man. Anyone interested in the birth of American democracy...or curious about the rise of the U.S. postal system...or wondering how paper money came to be...or wanting to know how Ben Franklin was part of it all, is sure to pore over Ben Franklin's Almanac.

Brings together eighteenth century etchings, artifacts, and quotations to create the effect of a scrapbook of the life of Benjamin Franklin.

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Editorial Reviews

The New York Times
Franklin is at his most fascinating and delightful in Candace Fleming's neatly conceived new biography, Ben Franklin's Almanac. Taking her cue from the format of Poor Richard's Almanack (which was outsold only by the Bible in colonial America), she has compiled an easy-to-read, beautifully designed folio of facts, art, essays and quotations by and about Franklin. There are many useful lists -- timelines, inventions, the names and birth dates of his 16 siblings -- as well as helpful rules for a good life, wicked jokes and insightful anecdotes. — Elizabeth Crow
Publishers Weekly
Fleming (The Hatmaker's Sign: A Story by Benjamin Franklin) apes the design of Franklin's Poor Richard's Almanack with her clever format here, to "illuminate each of the many facets" of her subject (as the author states in a foreword). Organized into chapters on larger themes, such as "Boyhood Memories" and "Tokens of a Well-Lived Life," the handsome oblong volume offers concise, engaging "bits and pieces" that both offer a broader context for Franklin's life events and specific insights into his character. For example, a piece called "The War Before" (in the "Revolutionary Memorabilia" section) describes how the aftermath of the French and Indian War helped fuel the colonists' anger and pave the way for the Revolutionary War; and an account in "Souvenirs from France" tells how Franklin outwitted spies to force a French alliance in that war. Throughout, pen-and-ink portraits, black-and-white etchings, humorous cartoons and facsimiles of newspaper and book pages (including his own Pennsylvania Gazette and Almanack help bring the man and his time to life. A generous peppering of primary source material allows Franklin's wit and personality-and contradictions-to emerge. Franklin sings the praises of his wife, Deborah, in a poem ("Of their Chloes and Phillisses poets may prate/ I sing of my plain country Joan/ Now twelve years my wife, still the joy of my life/ Blest day that I made her my own") yet for the last 17 years of her life, the two were separated by the Atlantic Ocean. Fleming's carefully chosen details shine light on Franklin's roles, from postmaster of Philadelphia, "president of Pennsylvania" and national abolitionist, to inventor, editor of the Declaration of Independence and experimenter with electricity. An opening timeline helps keep the chronology straight (an index is provided, too). While the volume's layout encourages readers to dip in and out, Fleming delivers a cohesive and complex portrait of a brilliant, productive and shrewd man who helped shape this country. Ages 10-14. (Sept.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
Fleming has taken an interesting approach to the life story of Benjamin Franklin. The book can be opened to any spread, where you will gain insight into the interest, accomplishments, family and political side of this American icon. Franklin was a printer by training, but having an inquisitive mind, he was also an inventor of items such as the Franklin stove and bifocals. He also was an ardent supporter of American independence from Great Britain and an able statesman and politician. The book is set up like his famous almanac, and the pages of the book are peppered with excerpts from Franklin's own writings. Also, he was involved in local affairs and established the first subscription library in Philadelphia and the first volunteer fire department. Today's kids are used to getting information in "sound bites," but these are more extensive and grouped so that together they form a fuller picture of the man and his life. The oversized book is full of illustrations that will help students by reinforcing or further illuminating the text. Fleming has provided an excellent bibliography that compliments the book chapters as well as noting the picture sources. Her book also contains an index, additional books and Web sites that will be of particular interest to students. She notes that she has been intrigued by Franklin for years and has even written a book about him for younger readers—The Hatmaker's Sign: A Story of Benjamin Franklin. Both will enrich any library or classroom collection. 2003, Atheneum/Simon & Schuster, Ages 10 to 14.
— Marilyn Courtot
School Library Journal
A unique approach to biography allows Fleming to create a fascinating scrapbook of this multifaceted man's life and accomplishments. Excerpts of Franklin's writings, a time line, reproductions of documents, cartoons, and sketches enhance this intriguing account. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
How does a biographer do justice to the life of Benjamin Franklin when he lived so long and did so much? Fleming has succeeded with a scrapbook organized by topic rather than chronology: boyhood, family, writing, science, thoughts on a well-lived life, revolution, France, and "Final Remembrances." Readers can dip in anywhere and find something of interest: rules for being a better writer, an essay on "whirlwinds in his bowels," Ben's role in the fight for independence, Ben at the Constitutional Convention. The inviting format is loaded with maps, cartoons, portraits, engravings, newspaper ads, and excerpts from Franklin's writing. The timeline at the beginning of the volume helps put events in order, and the author's biographical comments are interspersed with the memorabilia. The solid bibliography for young readers and guide to Web sites will lead readers further. An excellent resource and worthy companion to more traditional biographies. (introduction, picture credits, index) (Nonfiction. 10-14)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780689835490
  • Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
  • Publication date: 9/1/2003
  • Pages: 128
  • Sales rank: 577,679
  • Age range: 10 - 14 Years
  • Lexile: 1000L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 7.75 (w) x 11.87 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Candace Fleming is the acclaimed author of numerous books for children, including Ben Franklin’s Almanac, an ALA Notable Book and an ALA Best Book for Young Adults; as well as Muncha! Muncha! Muncha!; Gabriella’s Song; and When Agnes Caws; all ALA Notable Books. She lives in a suburb of Chicago.

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Table of Contents

Courteous Reader IV
A Year-by-Year Look at Ben's Life VI
Boyhood Memories 2
The Family Album 14
The Writer's Journal 22
Tokens of a Well-Lived Life 34
The Scientist's Scrapbook 46
Revolutionary Memorabilia 58
Souvenirs From France 78
Final Remembrances 94
Bibliography 106
Picture Sources 108
Books About Ben for Young Readers 114
Web Sites About Ben 115
Index 116
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