Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Module 11: Now & Ben: The Modern Inventions of Benjamin Franklin

Citation: Barretta, G. (2006). Now & Ben: The modern inventions of Benjamin Franklin. New York, NY: Henry Holt and Company.

Summary: This informative book will show you the many inventions of the infamous Ben Franklin.  Told in an interesting manner of beautiful illustrations combined with an introduction to some of his inventions on how there were used many years ago and also within the present day.   It is uniquely described within two page spreads of how Ben came up with his ideas for problems, issues or things of his interest and how it affects our world now, thus the title “Now & Ben”.  Many inventions are mentioned like the library, hospital, daylight saving time, bifocals, and the lighting rod are a few of the significant contributions within this book.

Impression: Peace, Love and an Informative Read!
Who would love this book? The illustrations are so eye catching and can maintain little one’s attentions because you just want to stare at every page with great detail.  It also gives that peaceful feeling because you can see where many of the thought for Ben’s inventions began.  It’s quite interesting how many of his inventions came about because they were a common sense way to solve any problem he may have run into. Kids of all ages will appreciate this informative read.

Reviews: Gr 2-5-- A clever, concise introduction to the contributions of this colorful colonial figure. The first spread depicts Franklin standing proudly by his family home with his wife and children smiling from within. His various occupations-writer, printer, diplomat, musician, humorist, postmaster, scientist, inventor, humanitarian-are written on the cobblestones beneath him. Next is a spread of a busy city street today, which challenges readers to guess which modern conveniences are owed to the subject's creativity. Subsequent spreads take a closer look at each invention from political cartoons, bifocals, electricity, lightning rod, and Franklin stove to daylight saving time and more. Each spread features a "Now…", description of a modern concept or convenience facing an early "Ben…", idea. "Now every automobile has an odometer to measure the distance it travels. Ben… invented the odometer when he was postmaster general so he could measure his postal routes." The fanciful final spread depicts a futuristic scene with flying-saucer vehicles and robot servers, which encourages youngsters to imagine how today's inventions will evolve in time. Engaging and humorous watercolor cartoons depict just how Franklin's inventions were conceived and developed. The yellow mottled endpapers are filled with sketches of the inventions featured within. Both Aliki's The Many Lives of Benjamin Franklin (S & S, 1988) and Rosalyn Schanzer's How Ben Franklin Stole the Lightning (HarperCollins, 2003) offer more background and biographical information, though this lively offering is sure to inspire readers to learn more about its fascinating subject.

Auerbach, B. (2006). Now & Ben: The modern inventions of Benjamin Franklin. School Library Journal, 52(3), 206.

The jacket portrait of a serene, grandfatherly Ben Franklin belies his energy and myriad contributions, such as inventing the lightning rod, charting the Gulf Stream, and helping to shape the Declaration of Independence. Inside, however, the book covers twenty-two of his inventions, first by showing their use in today’s world (a pedestrian looks down through his bifocals to read a wanted poster and then looks up to identify the criminal across the street) and second by explaining Franklin’s role in their development (he designed bifocals to avoid switching between two pair of glasses). By organizing the contents in a compare/contrast pattern between “Now” and “Ben,” Barretta leads readers from what they do know to what they probably don’t. “Now we understand the benefits of vitamin C. Ben was an early promoter of eating citrus fruits to help prevent a disease called scurvy.” “Now” appears on the left page, “Ben” on the right, visually   reversing a traditional timeline but conceptually reinforcing the here and now before introducing the long ago. Read this one aloud; the busy cartoon illustrations might distract beginning readers, but they offer plenty for listeners to contemplate.

Carter, B. (2006). Now & Ben: The modern inventions of Benjamin Franklin. Horn Book Magazine, 82(3), 339. 
Use in Library: This would be an excellent book to use at the elementary level as an introductory read aloud for historical figures and their contributions.  It could also be used as a supplement to resources for students’ research projects if anyone has Ben Franklin as their topic.

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