ELECTRIC BEN by Robert Byrd
Kirkus Star


by , illustrated by
Age Range: 8 - 14
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A beautifully realized labor of love and affection brings to life one of our brightest founding fathers.

Ben Franklin’s multiple geniuses might be too large to be contained in a simple narrative, but Byrd finds a way to convey with warmth and enthusiasm an appreciation for the long and influential life that Franklin lived as printer, inventor and statesman. Byrd’s sparkling marriage of text and illustration lowers the barriers to comprehending the brilliance, energy, passion and inventiveness of this early American phenom. Four generously wide columns across each opening offer a space for the straightforward, clear-voiced narrative accompanied by full-color, captioned artwork—sometimes several illustrations on a page—along with charming, brief inset quotations from Franklin’s writings. The design evokes the two-columned early newspapers that Franklin might have known. Byrd’s prose is respectful of his young readers and sophisticated at the same time, providing historical and cultural context for events and significant moments in Franklin’s life and selecting from a very big life the stories that best convey a sense of the personality and character of the man. The artwork and distinctive design must stand as markers for readers who want to return to specific places in the text, as there are neither page numbers nor an index. However, a comprehensive timeline and bibliography will serve young scholars well, and the author’s notes add to an understanding of both Franklin and the historical record about him.

A work of breadth and energy, just like its subject; engaging and brimming with appeal for a wide audience. (Biography. 8-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 13th, 2012
ISBN: 978-0-8037-3749-5
Page count: 40pp
Publisher: Dial
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15th, 2012


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