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So Said Ben

Michael McCurdy


Ages 12 and up

The Creative Company, 2007, 978-1-56846-147-2

  Benjamin Franklin did not come from a prosperous family and when he was only twelve and after only two years of school, Ben was apprenticed to work in his brother’s printing press. The brothers did not get on and Ben ended up breaking the “apprenticeship agreement” when he was seventeen and going to Philadelphia. Here, after a time, he was able to buy his own printing press. It was while he was a printer that he published Poor Richard’s Almanack, a book filled with interesting articles and suggestions on how people should live their lives so that they might be moral and good citizens.

  Many of the proverbs that he published were not his own but he did make them popular by putting them in his Almanack. His hope was that the sayings would “promote upright living and a hardworking society.”

  In all, the author and illustrator of this book has chosen to highlight thirteen of Ben Franklin’s more well known sayings. For each saying he quotes the proverb, explains its significance in Ben’s life and world, and illustrates it with one of his wood engravings. For example “A penny saved is a penny earned” was a saying which Ben could identify with very well. He had come from a poor family and had had to work hard for many years. Even when he was able to retire Ben lived, dressed, and ate simply, choosing not to waste money on unnecessary fripperies.

  Though Ben was only able to go to school for two years, for him “The doors of wisdom are never shut.” He read books all his life, educating himself even when he was an old man. Even when he was busy with important matters of state, he took the time to read and to learn.

  Readers will be astonished to discover how many familier sayings, many of which are still in use today in some form, were once printed in Poor Richard’s Almanack. What is even more interesting is to learn how the sayings relate to Ben Franklin’s life. As one comes to the end of the book one realizes how wise, self aware, and dedicated Benjamin Franklin was.

  This is a very special book which has been beautifully presented and carefully crafted. At the back of the book the author gives his readers further information about Benjamin Franklin’s life.

So Said Ben


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