Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Ben Franklin's Almanac: Being a True Account of the Good Gentleman's Life

Ben Franklin's Almanac: Being a True Account of the Good Gentleman's Life

Candace Fleming
For ages 10 to 14
Simon and Schuster, 2003   ISBN: 0689835493

It isn't often that we are lucky enough to be invited into the life of a man who had the curiosity of a child, and the mind of a genius. He was also not afraid to keep learning no matter what his age, and he was able to find humor in all manner of situations. Benjamin Franklin was just such a man.

In this book Candace Fleming  allows us to explore Franklin's extraordinary life in a new way. Instead of writing a traditional biography, she has chosen to present Franklin's life in the form of a scrapbook or almanac. In a way this feels 'right,' because, in part, Franklin became well known because he published an almanac himself which he called "Poor Richard's Almanac." It is perhaps only fitting that his own life should be presented in the form of an almanac as well.

Within the pages of this remarkable book we discover how much Franklin did indeed accomplish in his lifetime. In addition to his famous electrical experiments involving kites, he organized the first real postal system in the thirteen colonies, printed the first paper money, and saw, years before anyone else, that the American Revolution was going to happen. In fact, he also saw that slavery was going to be an issue that was not going to go away; he knew that it would, one day, be a problem for the people of the United States.

One of the wonderful things about this book is that one can pick it up and dip into the pages at random. The other wonderful thing about it is that once you pick it up, you cannot put it down. The book looks very much like an almanac or scrapbook, with old-fashioned looking script, pictures, photographs, copies of letters, and other documents.  It gives readers a refreshing new look at the life of one of America's greatest men; we are able to marvel and sometimes smile at the things Benjamin Franklin did and said. Surely such a lover of books would be proud of this one.