Who Was Ben Franklin? By Dennis Brindell Fradin Illustrated by John O’Brien
Late winter and spring is the time in school when many students read biographies of famous people. Starting in the lower grades youngsters scramble trying to find someone who is interesting enough to read about and write an assignment on and maybe even present it in character. Athletes, pop stars and others compete with famous historical characters. Here they learn about their lives, discover what their accomplishments were, what hardships and challenges they faced and hopefully they will see them as role models. (Maybe better they choose someone from times past than now as some of the more famous make poor role models) The range of biographies available for the younger to middle school readers is quite vast and there are many to choose from. The authors of these books manage to pack a lot of information into them, while making the person seem real and authentic.
“Who Was Ben Franklin” is in the series Who Was…? which includes famous names such are Albert Einstein, Ferdinand Magellan, John Kennedy to name a few. The books are literally crammed full of information with interesting and amusing illustrations to highlight points of the person’s life, or to visually present something that was discussed. The series is aimed at the lower grade students (grades 2-5) and is presented in an interesting and engaging style with comic book style illustrations. The books are small with a large font, well spaced so that the page isn’t overwhelming for beginner or early independent readers.
“Who Was Ben Franklin” is packed full of information on the founding father. From his youth Ben Franklin’s life is described in reasonable detail (spoiler alert – he did ‘t really come from a loving home) and his thirst for adventure, his curiosity and great mind is obvious. Each of his contributions is covered and at times they are mesmerizing. How could one man accomplish so much in his life? As the opening section states he was “a man of many talents” and “did so much that people claimed he had magical powers.” Inventor, statesman, scientist and quite a young rogue Ben’s many accomplishments and life story are presented in a very readable manner.
I quite liked this book and certainly learned a lot about Ben Franklin. I thought I knew about his life, but was I wrong. Dennis Brindell Fradin has done a wonderful job of packing so much information into this really slim book.