WHAT'S THE BIG IDEA, BEN FRANKLIN?
The "Big Idea" was the connection between lightning and electricity, though Ben Franklin later played his part in advocating still another--American independence. Of course, as everyone knows, Franklin isn't the kind of man who can be tied down to any one or two ideas, and there have been other, amusing, accounts of his immersion in notions of all varieties and sizes, not to mention Monjo's rougish portrait of Poor Richard in France (1973). In a sense, bringing Jean Fritz's wit to bear on the subject of Franklin is like carrying coals to Newcastle, but the pictures of young Ben practicing trick swimming or immersed in a book on "how to argue" are amusing and the emphasis on his Leather Apron upbringing (complete with Tomes' Goreyesque view of brother Ebenezer drowning in a vat of Dad's soapsuds) is enlarging. Not all of Franklin by a long shot--but a cheerful, piquant first meeting.