Friday, March 20, 2009

Benjamin Franklin

Benjamin Franklin
Ingri & Edgar Parin d'Aulaire ~ Doubleday, 1950

I don't remember how it came up, but the other night my son asked me what a genius was. I immediately chimed in Albert Einstein, and my husband scolded me for selecting such an obvious choice. His reply, "What about Leonardo Da Vinci?"... and I said, well, he was more famous for being an inventor and artist rather than a "circle c" genius. I mean Einstein was famous for BEING A GENIUS... and I'm sure more than a handful of readers will have to stretch their minds to remember his job description or what he was famous for... (I'll wait here if you want to Goggle..... physicist... E = mc2).... other than just being a genius. But after much thought on the subject, I have to say if I had to pick one favorite genius, Ben Franklin would be it. Not only was he a founding father and a constructor of many quotable quotes and the inventor of the lightning rod ala kite and key... but he also invented the public library.... which hands down might very well be one of the greatest inventions of all time.

That said, who better to tell his story to kids than the d'Aulaires... who also took on other American-themed big-wigs like Abraham Lincoln, Buffalo Bill and Columbus in picture book form. Really, I try not to use the word stunning lightly... but everything the d'Aulaires touched wreaks of it. Not only are the lithographs on stone mouthwatering, but the story is pretty darn cosy as well. Just check out the end of the book when genius passes on to another place...

Old Benjamin Franklin looked about him and beheld his wonderful country, wide and free, and he pointed to the emblem of the sun in Independence Hall. He had never quite know what it meant. "Now I know," he said, "that it is a rising sun." He sat in his garden in the shade of a mulberry tree and watched his grandchildren play around him. He retired to the quiet of his library, where now he could read his beloved books in peace. And when his hour came, Benjamin Franklin said: "I am ready to repose myself securely in the lap of God and Nature, as a child in the arms of an affectionate parent."

Stunning (and genius) indeed.

Also by:
D'Aulaire's Book of Animals
D'Aulaire's Book of Greek Myths
The Terrible Troll-Bird
Ola
Don't Count Your Chicks

7 comments:

Eight Women Dream said...

What a great idea for a blog. We gave you a little link love in our post today because one of us was writing about What Good Luck, What Bad Luck and you wrote about this in Sept of last year.
All our best.
Catherine

Swati said...

I didn't know the bit about Franklin and libraries :) Surely there were libraries before? I do know about ancient Greece and also Nalanda comes to mind. But perhaps you mean lending libraries as opposed to places of learning for reference purpose only?

Anonymous said...

I really like your blog and will come back to it. I was wondering if you have across a kids' book about a tree from which shoes hung. It was my mum's favourite and I can't seem to fnd it anywhere. Thanks again and keep up the good work!
A reader from Greece

Carm said...

I did not know about this book. I LOVE the illustrations. And Ben Franklin is such a fascinating man. Thanks for keeping me up to speed!

Anonymous said...

Wow, love this blog. You have such an awesome collection of books. Very inspiring. I'd love to see you do a post with pictures of your library and how you organize all of these books!

scribbler said...

Ha! You so don't wanna see how I organize these books... remember, I have a three year old at home... Basically the boy has five giant bookshelves that are shelved two deep... two in his room and two in my office and one at our house in the country... the ones he hates end up in my office... and the books I like but he doesn't like end up on the back of the shelves in his room and the ones he does like are at the front.... at the farm we have a lot of nature books and multiples... it is total chaos!

i am in a constant state of reorg just to keep the avalanche from devouring my family... let's just say, you're never gonna see my space on dwell.com....

Ed Hird+ said...

Benjamin Franklin had a remarkable impact in so many ways, including in books and literature. A Benjamin Franklin article just received the ‘Top 100 Electricity Blogs’ Award http://bit.ly/z8Ckp

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