October 6, 2014
Ben Franklin’s Big Splash by Barb Rosenstock, illustrated by S. D. Schindler
Ben Franklin’s Big Splash:
The Mostly True Story of His First Invention
by Barb Rosenstock
illustrated by S. D. Schindler
Did you know that Ben Franklin loved to swim? As the mom of a swimmer, this was news to me. He swam in Boston’s Charles River. The thing is that back in the colonial days when Franklin was a boy, people did not swim for fun or for exercise. They actually thought that being too clean would make you sick.
Yet Franklin taught himself to swim. When he was swimming, he spent time watching the fish and noting how much better they could swim. Soon, he was working away in his father’s shop, crafting a pair of swim fins and a pair of paddles. Franklin may not have been the earliest person to invent swim fins, but he was probably the earliest person to do more than draw them. He actually made them, tried them in the river, and then made improvements.
Even at a young age, Franklin was trying to make his world a better place.
This book is an excellent choice for 3rd through 5th graders who are studying history and may have run into Franklin’s name. It is also a good choice for anyone who is studying science because Franklin doesn’t succeed in his first attempt. Instead, he has to rethink his inventions and make improvements.
Why is this book billed as only mostly true? Franlkin’s description of the process he used to make this particular set of inventions is a paragraph long, written in a letter to a friend. Yes, Rosenstock researched Frankin and his times but she didn’t have details about what he was thinking and what specific actions he might have taken, shaking off water or smiling, when he climbed out of the river.
This is a highly realistic book but it is a work of fiction.
Schindler’s ink and watercolor illustrations look old fashioned but do so without dating the book and making it feel out-of-date. Instead, the illustrations ad depth to the story.
Check this one out and share it with the young thinker and do-er in your own life.