I Am Benjamin Franklin

Dial. (Ordinary People Change the World). Oct. 2020. 32p. Tr $15.99. ISBN 9780525555919.
K-Gr 3–This latest installment in the “Ordinary People Change the World” series covers the life of Benjamin Franklin. Using first-person narration, the text opens with a few anecdotes from Franklin’s childhood in Boston before launching into the many accomplishments of his adult life, such as his printing career in Philadelphia, his kite and electricity experiment, and the subsequent invention of the lightning rod. Unexplained cameos of other electricity pioneers in the final spread—from Nikola Tesla and Thomas Edison to Doc Brown and Marty McFly—suggest that the biography’s focus is on Franklin’s scientific achievements. The text also describes Franklin’s role as a Founding Father; however, it completely ignores why George III was treating the colonies “unfairly.” Franklin’s attempts at self-improvement are also featured. One spread shows his chart of 13 virtues, and the final spread advises, “You don’t have to be just one thing. But you do need to be a good person.” Overall, this formulaic overview may work for some of the other books in this series, but this breezy biography attempts to include too many facets of Franklin’s life without context or much detail. Back matter includes a time line, sources, and a further reading list.
VERDICT An extra purchase where short biographies are popular.

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