When you first open Ben Franklin: His Wit and Wisdom from A to Z by Alan Schroeder and illustrated by John O’Brien, you might wonder if you have picked up an alphabet book for middle grades. Once inside, however, it is apparent that Schroeder has organized this biography like one of Ben Franklin’s own almanacs. It turns out to be an intriguing collage of facts that fit together into a beautiful overview of this famous man’s entire life.
Besides the nontraditional format, the author has also managed to dig up some tidbits of information about Ben Franklin and times he lived in that I don’t remember reading about before. Ben Franklin was a general in the French and Indian War? People dipped their babies in cold water three times a day during colonial times? Fascinating!
John O’Brien’s watercolor and ink illustrations add illumination and humor to each page. Each page is filled with such detail that you want to come back again and again, finding new things each time.
Ben Franklin: His Wit and Wisdom from A to Z is an inspiring book. It could be used in both history and language arts classrooms. In addition to using it to teach about Ben Franklin, pair this book with a lesson about the history and design of almanacs and then have your students create their own.
Reading level: Ages 9-12
Hardcover: 32 pages
Publisher: Holiday House (April 1, 2011)
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This week’s post is at Lori Calabrese Writes!.