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BEN FRANKLIN by Alan Schroeder Kirkus Star


His Wit and Wisdom from A-Z

by Alan Schroeder & illustrated by John O’Brien

Age Range: 6 - 10

Pub Date: April 1st, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-8234-1950-0
Publisher: Holiday House

Two words in the subtitle totally encompass the approach of this highly creative alphabet biography—wit and wisdom. Like his subject, Schroeder is inventive; he profiles a major historic figure with amusing alphabetic tidbits that capture the spirit and substance of the man. Who knew that Franklin liked to take daily nude "air baths" (N for Newspaper, Navigation and Nude)? Multiple citations, with definitions, for each letter are boxed and set against a scenic background. The forefront entry for R, for instance, stands for Revolutionary War and is followed by Reading, Resolution and Rod; the illustration that accompanies manages to incorporate all of those elements either literally or metaphorically and add a laugh, to boot. Indeed, the format would be bland without O’Brien’s finely drawn lines that humorously detail the scenes. He comically tucks adages in small banners here and there, such as: “Wise men don’t need advice. Fools won’t take it” and “Either write something worth reading or do things worth writing.” From A for Almanac to Q for Quaker to Z for Zeal and back to A for American, this robust representation IS witty and wise. Using the alphabet as a device for informing and amusing continues to be a favorite with authors and illustrators, and Schroeder and O’Brien have set a new standard. Outstanding. (Alphabet biography. 6-10)