Benjamin Franklin was one of seventeen children, and the youngest of 10 sons. To help out with the family, he was put to work when he was 10 years old in his father's candle and soap-making shop. Ben hated making soap and candles. Since he was smart and a good speller and he loved to read, he later went to work in his brother's print shop as an apprentice. He read book after book, and soon began to write himself. By 18, he moved to Philadelphia where he eventually openend his own print shop. By age 28 he published "Poor Richard's Almanac," a best seller in Colonial America.
Benjamin Franklin was so inventive, practical and wise that no one since has rivaled his accomplishments. James Cross Giblin's The Amazing Life of Benjamin Franklin is a picture book biography that will inform and delight young readers as well as adults who are learning English. Dooling's paintings recreate the 18th century in costume and color. Noteworthy is the "artist's note" at the end, describing the difficulties in illustrating a life as rich and complex as Franklin's and alerting us to details we might otherwise miss in the paintings. Giblin provides an overview of the wisdom, the genius, the personal losses, the disappointments and the fortitude of this man for the ages. 2000, Scholastic, $17.95. Ages 10 up. Reviewer: Jan Lieberman