Title: Becoming Ben Franklin
Genre: Non-Fiction, Biography, History, American History
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Ages: 5th grade and up
First of all, if you are a new reader of this blog, you might think that I only read and review fiction. You couldn't be more wrong. Non-Fiction is actually my favorite genre. So, why don't you see more non-fiction reviews here? Two main reasons: (1) there is (unfortunately) WAY more fiction published each year, at least for kids and teens; and (2) I tend to hold non-fiction to a MUCH higher standard because I know that it can be POWERFUL when it is done right.
Second, for anyone familiar with non-fiction authors, I don't even need to review this latest book by the MASTER of the genre, Russell Freedman. Seriously folks, go check out EVERY book he has written and you will be amazed. This latest biography of Benjamin Franklin does not disappoint.
From the Publisher: This book follows Franklin from his childhood in Boston, where he was the son of a poor soap and candle maker with seventeen children, to his death, describing how Franklin became a self-made man who died a renowned statesman, scientist, printer, author, and inventor. An enthralling and lavishly designed biography of one of the most popular founding father's by distinguished Newbery Medal author Russell Freedman.
This title reads like a novel, and I found myself remarking about things I was learning for the first time about one of our nation's founding fathers. Freedman brings 17 year old Franklin to life in a way that draws readers in. All of the major stages in Franklin's life are illuminated using anecdotes, quotes, and well-chosen illustrative materials. I think that this will definitely appeal to the middle school crowd. Older fans of American History should also put this on their "to read" list, as well as any classroom teacher where the topic is studied. This is a terrific example of using primary sources to bring a person to life in the most engaging way.