Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

John, George, Paul & Ben

John, George, Paul & Ben

Lane Smith
Picture Book
For ages 5 and up
Hyperion, 2006   ISBN: 978-0786848935

Before they were Founding Fathers John Hancock, Paul Revere, George Washington, and Ben Franklin were pretty ordinary little “lads” who got into trouble, who played pranks, and who got into arguments with their peers. In this extremely funny picture book Lane Smith takes some of the famous legends about these four historical figures and has a little fun with them. He has little John Hancock writing his name on the blackboard in letters that are big enough that his name could be read “from space.” He has Paul Revere ringing bells so much that he practically makes himself deaf. As a result the poor little fellow shouts instead of talks. As it would happen this mannerism proves to be very useful when it comes time to tell the Americans that “The redcoats are coming!”

Lane Smith comes up with similarly amusing tales for George Washington and Ben Franklin. He also touches on the life of “independent” Thomas Jefferson who is so independent in fact that he was “hardly every around.”

Lane Smith follows these delightfully ridiculous accounts – which are all based on well known stories about these five men – with more information about each. He puts particular emphasis on the roles each man played in the American Revolution and in the founding of the new nation. Finally Lane Smith has created a very interesting “ye olde True or False section” which sets the record straight on which of the stories in the book are true and which were cleverly made up by the author.

A unique presentation, very amusing multimedia illustrations done is “ye olde” style, and a text which will appeal to readers of all ages makes this a winning picture book.