A Ben of All Trades by Michael J. Rosen

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A Ben of all professions: The most inventive childhood of Benjamin Franklin by Michael J. Rosen, illustrated by Matt Tavares. Candlewick, 2020, 30 pages.

Reading level: Picture book, 4-8 years

Recommended for: Age 5-10

Ben likes books because they're all different. He doesn't like candle making because they're all the same. But candle making is the craft of his father Josiah and of course the first business that young Ben tries. But not the trade he wants. He wants to be a sailor – an opportunity to see new places and new people and to be surrounded by water! (because he is a good swimmer) His father, who lost a son by the sea, will not have it. So Ben tries to train with a lathe operator, carpenter and cobbler, always with the same result: monotony and dissatisfaction. But his own older brother's print shop – that could finally be a job that fits his troubled mind and inventive hands.

The story, told in a narrative style with historical idioms, corresponds to what we know about Franklin's broad interests and all-rounders. The colored illustrations, many on double pages, capture the boy's exuberance and joy in discovery (which would later serve the founding father in a variety of important roles). America was lucky to have him and he was lucky to have America.

Overall rating: 4.5 (of 5)

  • Weltanschauung / moral value: 3.75
  • Artistic / literary value: 5

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