Ben Franklin's big splash The mostly true story of his first invention

Barb Rosenstock

Book - 2014

Retells the story of the famous thinker's first invention as a young Ben Franklin, troubled by the fact that fish swim better than he does, tries to invent a way to swim more fluidly.

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Picture books
Honesdale, Pennsylvania : Calkins Creek, an imprint of Highlights [2014]
Main Author
Barb Rosenstock (author)
Other Authors
S. D Schindler (illustrator)
Physical Description
1 volume (unpaged) : color illustrations ; 28 cm
Includes bibliographical references.
Contents unavailable.
Review by Booklist Review

Statesman and inventor Benjamin Franklin got an early start on the creative portion of his résumé. As an 11-year-old swimming fan, he was not content to idly paddle Boston's Charles River. Instead, he pondered important questions such as, Why can't I swim like a fish? which led him to his first inventions: swim fins and sandals. Basing her account on an excerpt from a letter Franklin sent to a fellow scientist in 1773, Rosenstock fictionalizes somewhat in describing how Franklin constructed these wooden swim aids. She also spotlights his curiosity and emphasizes the steps of the scientific method (problem, research, hypothesis, test, analyze, conclude) in describing Franklin's thought processes. Schindler's ink-and-­watercolor illustrations pick up the comical nuances of the text (especially Rosenstock's penchant for vivid alliterative verbs) and convey the imagination required for invention. Appended with a list of Franklin's inventions, source notes, and time line. Pair with Gloria Whelan's Queen Victoria's Bathing Machine (2014) for another inventive historical swimming story.--Weisman, Kay Copyright 2014 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by School Library Journal Review

Gr 3-7-Did you know that it was once believed that swimming would make you sick? How about that very few sailors in colonial times knew how to swim? Before the world knew famous inventor Benjamin Franklin, stinky Ben took to the sea and splashed his way through his first invention, the swim fins. Listeners will learn how young Ben analyzed the swimming patterns of a variety of aquatic creatures, including otters, turtles, and fish, to craft his unique invention. Susie Berneis's narration is strong, but listeners may find it difficult to visualize the actions with text alone. A variety of sound effects aid the narration, making it an enjoyable listening experience. VERDICT A worthwhile purchase if paired with the print edition.-Amanda Schiavulli, Finger Lakes Library System, NY © Copyright 2015. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Horn Book Review

Ben Franklin: noted printer, writer, statesman, scientist, inventor, and subject of dozens of biographies for children. Here's a slightly fictionalized tale to celebrate one of Ben's less-heralded accomplishments: self-taught swimmer. In the eighteenth century hardly anyone knew how to swim, but Franklin was an avid swimmer through old age, realizing the water's positive effects on his body and mind. Adolescent Ben slips away from his father's sweltering soap shop, sheds his stinky clothes, and splashes into the cool depths of Boston's Charles River. As he frolics in the water, Ben wonders why he can't swim like a fish. Observing the creatures, he designs and constructs primitive flippers and paddles to increase his speed, but is surprised when he's slowed down instead. Using the scientific method, Ben concludes not that he failed but that he has not yet succeeded--a philosophy that will serve him well for many decades. The text's tone is light and optimistic. Select words and phrases appear in larger colorful type, which, together with Schindler's lively ink and watercolor paintings, gives the book a breezy feel. Ben's curiosity, wit, and athleticism shine through, and his enthusiasm for the water is catching. Franklin mentioned his swim accessories only once, in a 1773 letter, but the book successfully creates an amusing backstory for his hobby. Back matter includes an author's note, timeline, and sources. pamela yosca (c) Copyright 2014. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Kirkus Book Review

Is another picture book about Ben Franklin really needed? The answer is yes, as unlike many of its predecessors, this one takes a fresh approach by focusing on a single childhood fascinationswimming. As a boy, Ben was unusual in that he loved to swim at a time when it was thought that swimming caused sickness. Ben's frustration was that he could not swim like a fish, and true to his nature, he searched for a solution, one that would enable him to swim like a fish. He first made swim fins out of wood and string (they looked like a painter's palettes), then swim sandals. Emphatic, alliterative verbs accentuate both his enthusiasm and his methodical nature: "Ben SPRINTED straight to the river, STOOD on the bank, STRIPPED OFF his clothes, STRAPPED his feet into the sandals, STUCK his thumbs back in the swim fins, SPREAD his arms wide, STOMPED his feet, and SPLASHED IN." This first discovery would lead to bigger and better scientific creations. The finely detailed ink-and-watercolor illustrations, varying type sizes and colors, and clever page design effectively and delightfully depict this significant American scientist. (Schindler deftly keeps Ben's privates underwater.) While the subtitle claims the book is "mostly true," the backmatter provides solid information. As inventive as Ben himself, this presentation is awash with delight and definitely makes a big splash. (author's note, timeline, sources, source notes) (Picture book/biography. 6-9) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.