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The Life of Benjamin Franklin: An American Original

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The biography of one of America's most important historical figures

Benjamin Franklin is known as a printer, writer, scientist, inventor, and patriot. Franklin helped write the Declaration of Independence, served as a general in the French-Indian War, and held many other luminary positions. In elegant prose and vibrant pictures, Yona Zeldis McDonough and her mother, renowned folk artist Malcah Zeldis, collaborate on the biography of one of ...

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Overview

The biography of one of America's most important historical figures

Benjamin Franklin is known as a printer, writer, scientist, inventor, and patriot. Franklin helped write the Declaration of Independence, served as a general in the French-Indian War, and held many other luminary positions. In elegant prose and vibrant pictures, Yona Zeldis McDonough and her mother, renowned folk artist Malcah Zeldis, collaborate on the biography of one of America's founding fathers.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature
McDonough and Zeldis offer a very readable, engrossing introduction to this important figure in American history. They trace his life from childhood through his schooling, his apprenticeship in his brother's print shop, and the start of his writing career. He begins his own printing business, starts a family, writes Poor Richard's Almanack, establishes the country's first lending library, a volunteer fire department, and an academy which becomes the University of Pennsylvania. As postmaster he sets up mail routes. He explores electricity and makes many scientific advances. Politics takes over his life during the Revolution; he travels to France for the cause. He even tries to outlaw slavery before his much-mourned death. Zeldis creates intensely colored gouache paintings in a folk-like style, detailing some of the settings of this rather lengthy biography. She depicts his association with both historic and personal events. We are shown his successful use of lightning rods on town buildings, for example, as well as a full-length portrait of him playing the violin. Also included are a time line of his life, a list of some of his inventions, some sayings from Poor Richard's Almanack, and a bibliography. 2006, Henry Holt and Company, Ages 5 to 9.
—Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal
Gr 2-4-McDonough chronicles Franklin's significant accomplishments and contributions in clear, simple prose that captures both the essence of the extraordinary man and of the times in which he lived. Zeldis's trademark folk-art illustrations are bright and vibrant, although page after page of such vivid hues is not easy on the eye. The pictures do not add any additional insight into the text, and sometimes contradict it, as when mention is made that Ben was one of 13 children, all of whom lived in a tiny four-room house, and five oddly sized children are pictured with their mother in a spacious room. James Cross Giblin's The Amazing Life of Benjamin Franklin (Scholastic, 2000) gives a more complete picture of the man's life, and Rosalyn Schanzer's How Ben Franklin Stole the Lightning (HarperCollins, 2003) has more child appeal. Purchase where additional material on Franklin is needed or where Zeldis's work has a following.-Grace Oliff, Ann Blanche Smith School, Hillsdale, NJ Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Bright folk-art-inspired illustrations accompany a lucid account of the great man's life. The straight narrative is a little wordier than most picture-book biographies, which allows for an impressive amount of detail to be packed in; the text flows well enough, however, that it is not burdensome for the audience. The chronological account folds Ben's many activities in as they happened as much as possible, with just enough backing and filling to keep the reader on track. McDonough includes both the admirable-Franklin refused to patent his lightning rod, instead making the designs available to all-and the less-than-admirable-"Ben had a son, William, whose mother was never named"-with equal straightforwardness. The highly saturated illustrations are dominated by the primary colors, page borders picking up one color to frame all-a pleasing design choice. Zeldis's plain primitive style suits the subject to a T, although her decision to color noses a distinct reddish-pink has the unfortunate effect of making Franklin look like a drunk from boyhood forward. As one of what is sure to be many this year, this offering stands as an additional purchase. (Picture book/biography. 6-9)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780805078565
  • Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
  • Publication date: 3/7/2006
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Pages: 48
  • Age range: 5 - 9 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.85 (w) x 11.25 (h) x 0.42 (d)

Meet the Author

Yona Zeldis McDonough and her mother, Malcah Zeldis, have collaborated on several children's books, including Anne Frank. They live in Brooklyn and New York City, respectively.

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