From School Library Journal
Grade 2-5–An inviting introduction to the varied and unique life of this fascinating Founding Father. Beginning with Franklin's birth, Harness explores the activities that filled his days from his quest to open his own print shop to his role in the American Revolution to his personal intrigues and inventions. Her conversational writing style and vivid illustrations will appeal to readers just becoming acquainted with this important figure. Done in watercolor, gouache, ink, and colored pencil, the detailed paintings create a strong sense of time and place, and Franklin's facial expressions convey emotions described in the text. Pertinent quotes from his writings appear on almost every page. A detailed time line helps place his story in context and fleshes out the specifics of his life. This colorful book provides an enticing glimpse at Franklin's philosophies and accomplishments. Youngsters interested in a more comprehensive account can be referred to David A. Adler's excellent B. Franklin, Printer
(Holiday House, 2001) and Candace Fleming's inviting Ben Franklin's Almanac
(S & S, 2003).–Deanna Romriell, Salt Lake City Library, UT
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*Starred Review* Those seeking a comprehensive biography for picture-book audiences need look no further than Harness' The Remarkable Benjamin Franklin
(2005), which showcases the talent for creatively distilling famous lives that marked her previous six picture books about great Americans. Buttressed by humanizing details, such as the young Franklin's dissatisfaction with his printing apprenticeship under a "bossy" elder brother, Harness swiftly covers Franklin's childhood and early adulthood. The remainder of the book is devoted to Franklin's wide-ranging political roles, with brief references to his scientific activities and the shadowy details of his private life (regarding his illegitimate son: "Who was William's mother? That has been a mystery for nearly 300 years"). Much of this information can be found in competing picture-book biographies, but the striking visual presentation, yoking together detailed watercolors, creatively placed quotes and captions, and text in an evocative letterpress typeface, helps this rise above the merely functional. End matter consists of an extensive time line followed by a page crammed cheek-to-jowl with minute source documentation, suggestions for further research, and copyright details. Much like Fleming's Ben Franklin's Almanac
, for older readers, the impression is of enthusiasms, barely contained--an apt simulacrum of Franklin's fizzing intellect. Jennifer MattsonCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved