An illustrated biography of Benjamin Franklin, suitable for middle-grade and young-adult readers.
Ogline’s debut provides a detailed account of Franklin’s life, complete with both realistic and cartoon-style black-and-white illustrations. Rather than offering a chronological recounting of the Renaissance man’s life, the book instead covers different aspects of his career in each chapter, with subject headings such as “Pen and Press” and “Innovator and Inventor.” As a result, only the first and final chapters read like a conventional biography. Highlighted sidebars throughout offer more detailed explanations of some scientific principles and historical events, including background information on the Boston Tea Party and how Franklin’s lightning detector functioned. A timeline at the close of each chapter offers a recap and a clear breakdown of events. A final bibliography directs readers to additional resources, including many websites. The book is rich in information, but its simple language and use of illustrations make it appropriate for younger readers. Middle and high school students, in particular, should be comfortable with the text, but it’s also detailed enough to make it useful for adults seeking a quick introduction to Franklin and his life. The book’s organization makes it easy to find specific information, which is especially helpful, as the book lacks an index; however, it does occasionally lead to repetition. For example, in the “Citizen and Statesman” chapter, a paragraph covers Franklin’s inventions and improvements, which the preceding chapter described in more detail. Ogline briefly touches on Franklin’s reputation as a ladies’ man, but he’s vague about this aspect of his personality: “The question of Franklin’s flirtations and what is fact and what is fiction is somewhat inconclusive.” This tactic may keep things safe for younger readers, but it may also lead to questions and confusion. Ultimately, the book provides a very flattering portrait of Franklin, noting only that he may not have been the most attentive family man.
A well-organized, easy-to-read biography that provides a solid introduction to one of America’s Founding Fathers.