Title: Now & Ben: The Modern Inventions of Benjamin Franklin
Author and Illustrator: Gene Barretta
Publisher: Henry Holt and Company
Flesch-Kinkaid Grade Level: 6.8
Concepts: Inventors, innovation, human resources, capital resources
Review: Everyone knows that Ben Franklin discovered the electric nature of lightning by flying a kite in a storm and developing the lightning rod. It is also common knowledge that he invented bifocals and a new kind of stove for heating houses. But did you know that he also invented the odometer, swim fins, the writing chair, and the “long arm” (we know it as a grabber today)? What about the glass armonica? You may remember that he helped organize the first public library, post office, fire department, and sanitation department. But did you know that he was also the first to suggest daylight saving time?
You will learn all this and more in Gene Barretta’s charming book. Barretta tells us about Ben Franklin through delightful cartoon-like illustrations and clear text. The familiar “now” illustrations are on the left side of each two-page spread with the two-hundred-year-old “Ben” illustrations on the right.
This clever book provides a charming way for parents and teachers to show young children the value of inventors and the many ways their inventions improve our lives. After hearing this story, you might want to visit the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia or learn more about the armonica. You can even try “playing” the armonica on line.
Review by: Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children