What's The Big Idea, Ben Franklin?

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Overview

No matter how busy he was, Ben Franklin always found time to try out new ideas and he was also a man of many talents. He was also an ambassador to England, a printer, an almanac maker, a politician, and even a vegetarian (for a time).

A brief biography of the eighteenth-century printer, inventor, and statesman who played an influential role in the early history of the United States.

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Overview

No matter how busy he was, Ben Franklin always found time to try out new ideas and he was also a man of many talents. He was also an ambassador to England, a printer, an almanac maker, a politician, and even a vegetarian (for a time).

A brief biography of the eighteenth-century printer, inventor, and statesman who played an influential role in the early history of the United States.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Kathleen Karr
Welcome to the 24th printing, (merely taking into account the paper version), of Jean Fritz's Ben Franklin biography for younger children. Yes, it has become venerable, but for all the right reasons. In her series of early readers highlighting American Revolutionary War-era figures from Paul Revere to John Hancock, Fritz caught the optimal tone for her audience. It is a light, breezy, perfect-for-reading-aloud style. The important dates and facts are all painlessly here, and so are the matter-of-factly stated anecdotes that fascinate kids. Who else would describe several of Ben's huge number of siblings this way: "Josiah ran away from home and was drowned at sea. Sixteen-month-old Ebenezer ran away from his mother and was drowned in a tub of his father's soapsuds." Thankfully, Margot Tomes's sketches are always in absolute sync with Fritz's narrative, whether irreverent caricatures or solid draftsman-like illustrations of Franklin's inventions. The resulting book remains a brilliant partnership of children's publishing talents. Reviewer: Kathleen Karr
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780698113725
  • Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group
  • Publication date: 1/28/2000
  • Edition description: Reissue
  • Pages: 48
  • Sales rank: 82,904
  • Age range: 7 - 11 Years
  • Lexile: 830L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 7.02 (w) x 9.04 (h) x 0.12 (d)

Meet the Author

"The question I am most often asked," Jean Fritz says, "is how do I find my ideas? The answer is: I don't. Ideas find me. A character in history will suddenly step right out of the past and demand a book. Generally people don't bother to speak to me unless there's a good chance that I'll take them on." Throughout almost four decades of writing about history, Jean Fritz has taken on plenty of people, starting with George Washington in The Cabin Faced West (1958). Since then, her refreshingly informal historical biographies for children have been widely acclaimed as "unconventional," "good-humored," "witty," "irrepressible," and "extraordinary."

In her role as biographer, Jean Fritz attempts to uncover the adventures and personalities behind each character she researches. "Once my character and I have reached an understanding," she explains, "then I begin the detective work—reading old books, old letters, old newspapers, and visiting the places where my subject lived. Often I turn up surprises and of course I pass these on." It is her penchant for making distant historical figures seem real that brings the characters to life and makes the biographies entertaining, informative, and filled with natural child appeal.

An original and lively thinker, as well as an inspiration to children and adults, Jean Fritz is undeniably a master of her craft. She was awarded the Regina Medal by the Catholic Library Association, presented with the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award by the American Library Association for her "substantial and lasting contribution to children's literature," and honored with the Knickerbocker Award for Juvenile Literature, which was presented by the New York State Library Association for her body of work.

copyright © 2000 by Penguin Putnam Books for Young Readers. All rights reserved.

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