by Barb Rosenstock; Illustrated by S.D. Schindler
Calkins Creek/Boyds Mills (September 1, 2014)
Interest Level: Grades 2 to 5
Biographical * Inventors * History
Ben Franklin loved to swim and, at the age of eleven, he was determined to swim like a fish--fins and all! This fascinating and lively account of young Ben's earliest invention follows the budding scientist's journey as he tests and retests his swim fins. That first big splash led Ben to even more innovations and inventions. Includes Franklin quotes, a timeline, bibliography, and source notes.
Official Book Trailer:
My thoughts on this book:
Yes, I am stretching it with this week's pick for Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday, but once in awhile, I will throw in a historical fiction piece that I really enjoyed or had some particular merit that I felt important to share.
First, let me start with the end of the book. Rosenstock includes several features that are more typical of a nonfiction book than many historical fiction titles. She includes illustrations of Franklin's inventions, a detailed author's note about the true story behind the mostly true story, bibliography, source notes, and a timeline. In her author's note, she includes Franklin's own words about the invention highlighted in this book.
Second, I love the emphasis on Franklin's attitude about failure. Rather than consider his attempts as failures, he would say that "he was not satisfied". What if children today thought about their own failures as being something that they "were not satisfied" with or an opportunity to reflect and try again? As we prepare to go into a new school year, I have been thinking a lot about how we encourage students to persevere, observe, and try again? Stories that embody this and that do so in a humorous way are ones that I can easily share with students as examples.
Third, I have been thinking a lot recently about picture book biographies. Most of the books in this type of format are limited to about 32 pages. Really, a very small number of pages in which to convey such important things about a person, especially someone so talented as Ben Franklin. I enjoyed how Rosenstock took one aspect of Franklin's life and developed it but also used it to convey so much about his personality and skills. This made me think about how I could use this as a mentor text for writing biographical stories in class.
Look for a copy of Ben Franklin's Big Splash: The Mostly True Story of His First Invention at your local independent bookseller or community library.
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