Ben Franklin's Almanac: Being a True Account of the Good Gentleman's Life
Ages 10 to 14
Atheneum, 2003, $19.95, 0-689-83549-3
It isn't often that we are lucky enough to be invited into the life of a man who had the curiosity of a child, the mind of a genius, who was not afraid to keep learning no matter what his age, and who was able to find humor in all manner of situations. Benjamin Franklin was such a man. Candace Fleming has created a book which allows us to explore Franklin's extraordinary life in a new way. Deciding not to write a tradition biography, she has chosen to present Franklin's life in the form of a scrapbook or almanac. In a way this has a certain irony for Franklin gained a good bit of his original popularity by publishing an almanac himself which he titled "Poor Richard's Almanac." It is perhaps only fitting that his own life should be presented in the form of an almanac as well. It is quite astonishing to discover within the pages of this remarkable book how much Franklin did indeed accomplish in his lifetime. Electrical experiments involving kites aside, he organized the first real postal system in the thirteen colonies, printed the first paper money, and saw years before anyone else, that the American Revolution was going to happen. In fact he also saw that slavery was going to be an issue that was not going to go away, he knew that it would, one day, be a problem for the people of the United States. One of the wonderful things about this book is that one can pick it up and dip into the pages at random. The other is that once you pick it up, you cannot put it down. Looking so much like an almanac or scrapbook with an old-fashioned looking script, pictures, photographs, copies of letters and other documents, this is a refreshing new look at the life of one of America's greatest men; we are able to marvel and sometimes smile at the things Benjamin Franklin did and said. Surely such a lover of books would be proud of this one.
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