How Ben Franklin Stole the Lightning

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Overview

Ben Franklin was the most famous American in the entire world during colonial times. No wonder! After all, the man could do just about anything. Why, he was an author and an athlete and a patriot and a scientist and an inventor to boot. He even found a way to steal the lightning right out of the sky.

Is such a thing possible? Is it. Take a look inside and find Ben busy at work on every spread. Then find out how he used his discovery about ...

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Overview

Ben Franklin was the most famous American in the entire world during colonial times. No wonder! After all, the man could do just about anything. Why, he was an author and an athlete and a patriot and a scientist and an inventor to boot. He even found a way to steal the lightning right out of the sky.

Is such a thing possible? Is it. Take a look inside and find Ben busy at work on every spread. Then find out how he used his discovery about lightning to make people's lives safer.

In an inventive way, Rosalyn Schanzer brings us a brilliant and ever-curious American original.

Focuses on Benjamin Franklin's role as an inventor of whimsical gadgets and practical contraptions, with an emphasis on his experiment of flying a kite during a rainstorm.

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Editorial Reviews

Washington Post
“Exceptionally engaging”
Washington Post
“Exceptionally engaging”
Publishers Weekly
As with her How We Crossed the West: The Adventures of Lewis and Clark, Schanzer's lively writing and drawing style again makes history come alive. Here she gives appropriate spark to a picture-book overview of Benjamin Franklin's various inventions and scientific experiments, zeroing in on his discovery of lightning's electric power. The statement "It's true!" begins the exhilarating ride. From there the author summarizes, in a succinct and zippy style, many of Franklin's achievements as inventor, statesman, author, entrepreneur, activist, community leader and musician-a Renaissance man of boundless energy ("Didn't the man ever stop to rest?" she wonders). The artwork, a combination of vibrantly colored dyes and ink line, depicts an ebullient Franklin smiling, with his hair flying, as he flits from one role to the next. But the author devotes a significant portion of the book to Franklin's curiosity about electricity (which he believed to be found in lightning) and its potential to cause devastating fires, including the story behind Franklin's famous experiment of flying a kite with a key on its string during a thunderstorm. The compositions, which include period detail and accessible illustrated renditions of Franklin's documented projects and inventions, match the chipper tone of the text. An extensive author's note provides further information on Franklin's life and works, and spiffy endpapers reproduce diagrams and notes from Franklin's papers in Philadelphia's American Philosophical Society. This fitting tribute to a memorable leader emphasizes the playfulness that accompanies a curious mind and the boundless energy required for great accomplishments. Ages 6-12. (Jan.)
Children's Literature
This is a charming biography of the man who invented the lightning rod and other practical things we use every day. Many of his contributions to society are mentioned—a hospital, a free academy and a fire department, along with the post office and the first lending library. Wonderfully illustrated in bright colors with a cartoon style, this book has many details for a child to investigate and enough words on each page to give a lot of information and time for children to discover the humor in each picture. Franklin's lesser known legacies are identified, such as a library chair and the first clock with a second hand. "A Note from the Author" explains more. The end papers show some of Franklin's original drawings of electrical experiments along with our cheerful hero. This book is a wonderful combination of information and engaging artwork. It will be very useful in primary classrooms and public libraries. 2003 HarperCollins Publishers,
— Candace Deisley
School Library Journal
Gr 2-4-Even in childhood, Franklin was inventing better ways to do things. "He lay on his back, held on to a kite string, and let his kite pull him lickety-split across a big pond." This spirited account of the most prodigious inventor echoes the tall-tale humor Schanzer employed in Davy Crockett Saves the World (HarperCollins, 2001). Her subject comes across as larger than life, even though the lively, color cartoon sketches often depict him in miniature. The book begins with Franklin's accomplishments but quickly moves on to his many inventions and his growing interest in electricity, culminating in his capture of lightning in the legendary kite experiment. The author does a nice job of explaining the historical context and the ultimate value of the lightning rod in saving lives. The deftly drawn comic scenes and the folksy tone lend folklore flavor, but this brisk account is not fictionalized. The concluding author's note adds information on Franklin's work as inventor, and the endpapers superimpose a small, cheerful depiction of him on a pleasant layout of his own sketches. Well conceived and crafted, this fresh view is particularly welcome as few of the fine picture-book accounts of the popular patriot remain in print. Enjoyable reading fare, this volume will pair neatly with Lisa Jo Rudy's The Ben Franklin Book of Easy and Incredible Experiments (Wiley, 1995).-Margaret Bush, Simmons College, Boston Copyright 2003 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
The author of Davy Crockett Saves the World (2001) builds a convincing case for adding Ben Franklin to the pantheon of American tall-tale heroes. To comic scenes featuring a gnomic, potbellied Franklin jovially presenting various inventions, experiments, and incidents from his life, Schanzer adds a rousing litany of feats and abilities: "Why, Ben Franklin could swim faster, argue better, and write funnier stories than practically anyone in colonial America. He was a musician, a printer, a cartoonist and a world traveler!" And "he really did steal lightning right out of the sky! And then he set out to tame the beast." How? With a series of experiments, including the famous one with the kite—luckily, the storm wasn’t a severe one, or "the great inventor would have been toast"—and then the introduction of the lightning rod, which has saved thousands of lives over the years. Capped by an afterword that adds even more luster to Franklin’s career, this effervescent tribute will give legions of young readers a peerless role model, whose actual, well-documented deeds need no exaggeration. (source note) (Picture book/biography. 7-9)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780688169930
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 12/5/2002
  • Edition description: 1ST
  • Pages: 40
  • Sales rank: 343,799
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Lexile: 910L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 9.00 (w) x 11.00 (h) x 0.25 (d)

Meet the Author

Patricia Lauber is the highly acclaimed author of, among others, Volcano, a Newbery Honor Book, and Flood, a School Library Journal Best Book of the Year. Her fascination with horses began in childhood, when she loved to read about them. She learned to ride, and at the age of twelve spent a memorable summer on a ranch in New Mexico. Patricia Lauber lives with her husband in New Canaan, Connecticut.

Rosalyn Schanzer has written and illustrated several outstanding children's books, including her How We Crossed the West, which received starred reviews from School Library Journal and Publishers Weekly, and, most recently, Gold Fever! As a child, she always enjoyed reading stories about horses. By the time the artist was twelve years old, she'd read all of the Black Stallion books, by Walter Farley; then she studied the muscle structures of horses so that she could draw them herself. Rosalyn Schanzer lives with her husband, Steve, their children, Adam and Kim, and their family dog, Jones, in Fairfax Station, Virginia.

Patricia Lauber and Rosalyn Schanzer recently collaborated on The True-or-False Book of Cats, which School Library Journal called "A delightful look at the behavior of these popular pets ... A book that will frequently stray from the shelf."

Patricia Lauber is the highly acclaimed author of, among others, Volcano, a Newbery Honor Book, and Flood, a School Library Journal Best Book of the Year. Her fascination with horses began in childhood, when she loved to read about them. She learned to ride, and at the age of twelve spent a memorable summer on a ranch in New Mexico. Patricia Lauber lives with her husband in New Canaan, Connecticut.

Rosalyn Schanzer has written and illustrated several outstanding children's books, including her How We Crossed the West, which received starred reviews from School Library Journal and Publishers Weekly, and, most recently, Gold Fever! As a child, she always enjoyed reading stories about horses. By the time the artist was twelve years old, she'd read all of the Black Stallion books, by Walter Farley; then she studied the muscle structures of horses so that she could draw them herself. Rosalyn Schanzer lives with her husband, Steve, their children, Adam and Kim, and their family dog, Jones, in Fairfax Station, Virginia.

Patricia Lauber and Rosalyn Schanzer recently collaborated on The True-or-False Book of Cats, which School Library Journal called "A delightful look at the behavior of these popular pets ... A book that will frequently stray from the shelf."

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