Benjamin Franklin as bright kid, industrious youth, busy citizen, curious intellect, fertile inventor, and beloved statesman--projected not in such words but in a short, simple chronology and in ink and wash drawings (often several frames to the page) with hand-lettered captions that elaborate on the text. Aliki is sketchiest on Franklin's most significant life, the political one (she has him help write the Declaration of Independence--so ""that America would be free""--but otherwise doesn't place the document) and she lacks Jean Eritz's talent for striking just the right, light note. (An early caption reads, ""Ben wanted to be a sailor so he could travel""; the accompanying picture has a sweet young Mom explaining ""No Ben. Your brother was a sailor and he drowned""--an efficient but odd way to tell it.) Her approach overall is pleasant and unimposing and Franklin is a subject who takes well to the informality--but this is neither first-class Aliki nor notable among the many lives of Benjamin Franklin.