NOW AND BEN by Gene Baretta (Henry Holt)
If you are a kid, which would you rather read: a dry list of Ben Franklin’s inventions, or examples illustrated a la Mad Magazine of how his ideas continue to rock in the modern world? The many innovations and improvements made by Ben Franklin during the Revolutionary period still resonate or are in use today, as demonstrated in this lively and thoughtful book that is sure to inspire appreciation and maybe just a little bit of invention. Libraries! Hospitals! Post offices! Daylight savings time! Electricity! The glass armonica! (Okay, you can’t win 'em all.) With a very clever structure, this title offers history in a meaningful way that children will remember long after the covers close. (7 and up)
The copy reads, "Franklin never patented his creations because he believed people should have the freedom to modify and improve them…that’s why most of his inventions are still important today." I wonder what he might have thought of all of the copyright restrictions and intellectual property rights we have today? I know I have experienced this myself, wanting to share the credited artistic work of others, in music or writing, but not able to afford it. I could not let the words “it’s the same old song but a different feeling since you’ve been gone” play from a radio in one of my stories without paying top dollar, or share the music of Mary Martin on a podcast to a generation who may not have ever heard her before. It does seem like a surefire way to be lost to the ages.
Just another way Ben was ahead of his time, I guess.
Also of interest:
JOHN, PAUL, GEORGE & BEN by Lane Smith (Hyperion) (Irreverent childhood escapades of the colonial fab four are presented in a revolutionary mix of fact and funny.) (6 and up)
On a personal note
Have a glorious fourth! Book-a-Day is taking a long holiday weekend, check back on the 5th for more reading recommendations.
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