A Ben of All Trades: The Most Inventive Boyhood of Benjamin Franklin (By Michael J. Rosen)

Illustrated by Matt Tavares, Published in 2020


Everyone knows Benjamin Franklin as one who helped draft the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, and who also served as an ambassador to France. Michael J. Rosen skillfully takes a part of Franklin’s childhood and brings him to life for children in the 21st century. Franklin according to Rosen was a polymath, however, in childhood all he wanted to do was to live a life on the sea-which his father forbade him to go. The young Franklin had a thirst for books and knowledge, and he studied The Art of Swimming learning the art of every stroke. Choosing a profession, however, was a different story - the apprenticeships his father set him up for were dull and uninteresting to him - he hated the idea of making and doing the same thing repeatedly. One advantage Franklin found about himself that trying different apprenticeships helped him become a better inventor as seen with his kite making skills. Ben according to his father still needed a profession and he was sent to work as a journeyman at his brother’s printshop-while it was not a seaworthy adventure Ben Franklin loved the printing business. This newfound trade led him to publish a newspaper, an almanac, essay and political opinions, and later an autobiography. Rosen deftly describes Franklin’s “roots” as a reader coupled with being a polymath which led him to become one of the most popular of American figures. Matt Tavares art is superlative in capturing Franklin’s kite flying and mastering the art of swimming.

A Bookish Decree: One of the best opening lines in children’s literature “What did Benjamin Franklin love about books? Each one was nothing like another.”

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