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John, Paul, George and Ben

John, Paul, George and Ben

4.5 14
by Lane Smith

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Once there were four lads...
John [Hancock],
Paul [Revere],
George [Washington],
and Ben [Franklin].
Oh yes, there was also Tom [Jefferson], but he was annoyingly independent and hardly ever around.

These lads were always getting into trouble for one reason or another. In other words, they took a few...liberties. And to be honest, they


Once there were four lads...
John [Hancock],
Paul [Revere],
George [Washington],
and Ben [Franklin].
Oh yes, there was also Tom [Jefferson], but he was annoyingly independent and hardly ever around.

These lads were always getting into trouble for one reason or another. In other words, they took a few...liberties. And to be honest, they were not always appreciated.

This is the story of five little lads before they became five really big Founding Fathers.

Editorial Reviews

Did you ever wonder what our founding fathers were like as boys? Well, in Smith's uproariously irreverent take on history, John Hancock's penmanship was bold even in his youth: "John, c'mon...we don't need to read it from space!" his teacher complains. Smith takes equal liberties with his zany artwork, juxtaposing yellowed, age-crackled backgrounds with a modern sense of irony: An ax-wielding young George Washington proudly stands atop a lonely stump in a decimated field, having "taken out the apple orchard, leveled the barn, and made kindling of [his father's] carriage." A true-false section sets readers straight at book's end, but oh what fun getting there! (Ages 6 to 8)
Child magazine's Best Children's Book Awards 2006
Children's Literature - Leigh Herran
Lane Smith introduces us to five odd "young lads": John, Paul, George, Ben, and Thomas. He describes John as bold, and when John's teachers calls on him to go to the blackboard, he writes with very large handwriting. Paul is a little hard of hearing from playing in the belfry and in public, people consider him an exceedingly noisy boy. George causes trouble sometimes, but he is unusually honest whenever his father asks him about his behavior. Ben is clever but his continuous wit eventually annoys people. Thomas is an independent boy who, to the frustration of his teacher, does his own version of class assignments. Smith emphasizes that these schoolboys' distinctiveness is unappreciated in their time. As history unfolds, however, their annoyances become strengths for each of them. Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence; John Hancock boldly signed. Paul Revere's loud voice warned his town of coming danger. Honest George Washington became our first president. Benjamin Franklin encouraged these men with his witty words: "We must all hang together or assuredly we shall hang separately." Having illustrated many noted children's books, such as Squids will be Squids and his New York Times "Best Illustrated Book," Stinky Cheese Man, Smith knows how to entice his reader into lingering longer than the typical few seconds per page and does just this with John, Paul, George & Ben. Smith takes history, a subject many children find dull, and makes it fun and entertaining. Not only does he make these "larger than life" historical figures much more human to enable any child to identify with them, but he also opens the imagination toward positivepossibilities.
Children's Literature - Caroline Goddard
When we think about the Founding Fathers we do not think of little boys who get into trouble with their teachers or parents, but as this DVD shows us, some of them did. John, Paul, George and Ben brings history alive with humorous vignettes about the childhoods of five of our favorite statesmen. We learn that Paul Revere's loud voice was cultivated in his church's bell ringing club. Not all members of the community appreciated this special talent when in his father's shop he loudly announced the size of their underwear. Humor is the order of the day throughout this DVD as young Ben Franklin drives his friends crazy with one too many of his clever sayings and John Hancock frustrates his teacher with his large "John Hancock" on the chalkboard. These characteristics of John, Paul, George, Ben and Independent Tom reappear as they lead our new county during the Revolution. Adding to fun, this DVD also offers an interactive component called "Taking Liberties," where viewers can participate in a true or false test to clear up any historical misconceptions. Such lofty and admirable people are portrayed in such a way that all students will be able to identify with them. Masterfully narrated by James Earl Jones and with a musical score that helps to illustrate the character traits of each young Son of Liberty, you cannot help but want to watch this DVD again and again. Running time: 13 minutes. Reviewer: Caroline Goddard
Children's Literature
Smith has his fun with five icons of American history: Washington, Hancock, Franklin, Jefferson, and Paul Revere. Taking his liberties with the facts, he invents some outrageous tales and relates them to actual historic truths, which he does clarify at the end. The Revere Shop sold silver, not underwear, for example. "But extra-large underwear is always funnier." The apocryphal story of Washington and the cherry tree is ridiculously expanded. Franklin's clever sayings finally cause the townspeople to ask him, "Please shut your big yap!" Young Jefferson pushes "Liberty" a bit too hard in school. Smith offers a detailed description of the many techniques he uses, in addition to pen-and-ink, to supply appropriate anecdotal detail in a style that suggests the 18th century but is, of course, his very own comic impression of history. He adds visual potency to parts of the text: for example, the words of Revere's warning that the redcoats are coming expand across to cover half of the double page. Each section is headed by a small portrait based on a historic painting, which is included at the end with the historic record. He also sets the record straight with "ye olde True or False section." As long as young readers do not take this almost sacrilegious humor too seriously, it can be enjoyed by all. 2006, Hyperion Books for Children, Ages 5 to 9.
—Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal
Gr 2-5-Describing each man in turn as either bold, noisy, honest, clever, or independent, and taking many liberties with the truth, Smith relates how the Founding Fathers of the title-and Jefferson, too-played a part in securing America's freedom. Hancock's penchant for sprawling his name across the chalkboard as a child led to his boldly writing the biggest signature on the Declaration of Independence. Revere's loud voice selling underwear in his shop came in handy when he had to scream "The Redcoats are coming!" Washington's honest admission to chopping down trees led to his serving as president in New York City where there were few forests. Well, you get the idea. The pen-and-ink cartoon illustrations, richly textured with various techniques, add to the fun. Page turns reveal droll surprises such as young bewigged George, axe in hand and already missing some teeth, surveying his felled orchard, or Franklin's rejoinder when the townspeople express their vexation with his clever sayings. Early American typefaces, parchment grounds, and vestiges of 18th-century life, like chamber pots and hoop toys, evoke a sense of the time. A true-and-false section in the back separates fact from fiction. While children will love the off-the-wall humor, there is plenty for adult readers to enjoy, too-the clever fly leaf, puns ("-that bell-ringing took a toll on young Paul"), and more. Exercise your freedom to scoop up this one.-Marianne Saccardi, formerly at Norwalk Community College, CT Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Despite the Beatles-reminiscent title, this offering concerns itself with not four, but five of the Founding Dads: John (Hancock), Paul (Revere), George (Washington), Ben (Franklin) and Tom (Jefferson). Each is imagined in his youth, identified by one characteristic that becomes key to his involvement in the American Revolution. John is bold, writing his name large on the blackboard; Paul is noisy, bellowing out customers' orders in his family's shop; George is honest, confessing to the chopping down of not only the cherry tree, but the whole orchard; Ben is clever, sharing his aphorisms with all who will listen; and Tom is independent, making a model of Monticello instead of a birdhouse out of "ye olde balsa wood." Smith's faux-antiqued illustrations deliver bucket-loads of zany energy, but his text lacks his sometime partner Jon Scieszka's focus. While there is a hallowed place for irreverence in children's literature, one might wish for a work that more evenly balances humor with substance. Still, this may serve as an entry point for kids who think that history is dry as dust, and "Ye Olde True or False Section" really is pretty funny. (Picture book. 5-9)First printing of 250,000; $250,000 ad/promo

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8.50(w) x 10.50(h) x (d)

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John, Paul, George and Ben 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I'm a substitute teacher and I happened to come across this book at a scholastic book fair last Fall. I carry it with me when I go to different classes and read it to the kids. I have yet to find a class that doesn't love it. I have trouble reading it without cracking up every time. It's great for all grades, I reccommend sharing it with 2nd grade and up. You won't regret this purchase. I plan to see what else this author has out there.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
John, Paul, George, and Ben by Lane Smith is a very funny book because there are children who have a lot of character and one of them is name Paul and he works at at the cleaners and he yells so loud that everyone in the store ears break and this book is one of my favorite funny books because I am really Intrested to what their to what they do to get attention. This book talks about what the presidents did when they were little, president George was honest about cutting down the cherry tree, Ben he would give people his own advice that he comes up with. Thinking that its okay. Everyone knows its annoying when somebody keeps bothering you and keeps chating and and chating about stuff all the time. Thomas was always trying to be the best student. All of these charecters have become our presidents today!