Cover image for What's the big idea, Ben Franklin?
What's the big idea, Ben Franklin?
Fritz, Jean.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York, NY : Putnam & Grosset Group, 1996.

Physical Description:
46 pages : illustrations (some color) ; 24 cm
A brief biography of the eighteenth-century printer, inventor, and statesman who played an influential role in the early history of the United States.
General Note:
"A PaperStar book"--P. [4] of cover.
Reading Level:

830 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR MG 5.5 1.0 5445.

Reading Counts RC 3-5 4.6 3 Quiz: 12429 Guided reading level: O.
Added Author:

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
E302.6.F8 F88C Juvenile Non-Fiction Biography

On Order



A fun historic tale by Newbery Honor-winning author, Jean Fritz!

No matter how busy he was, Ben Franklin always found time to try out new ideas: a remote-control lock (so he could lock his door without getting out of bed), a rocking chair with a fan over it (to keep flies away), and a windmill (to turn his roast meat on its spit). Aside from being a mad of ideas, he was an ambassador to England, a printer, an almanac maker, a politician, and even a vegetarian (for a time, anyway).

"This biography is distinguished by its humanizing detail [and] amusing tone." - School Library Journal

Author Notes

Jean Fritz was born in Hankow, China on November 16, 1915. She received a bachelor's degree in English from Wheaton College in 1937. She wrote picture books and historical fiction before focusing on historical nonfiction. Her first book, Bunny Hopewell's First Spring, was published in 1954. Her other books included And Then What Happened, Paul Revere?; Will You Sign Here, John Hancock?; Can't You Make Them Behave, King George?; Shh! We're Writing the Constitution; Traitor: The Case of Benedict Arnold; Where Do You Think You're Going, Christopher Columbus?; Who's That Stepping on Plymouth Rock?; The Double Life of Pocahontas; and George Washington's Mother.

Homesick: My Own Story, a collection of linked narratives, traces her life from her girlhood in China to her longed-for yet uneasy passage to America. It won a National Book Award and was named a Newbery Honor Book. She received the Regina Medal by the Catholic Library Association, the National Humanities Medal, and the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award and the Knickerbocker Award for Juvenile Literature for her body of work. She died on May 14, 2017 at the age of 101.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 1

Booklist Review

Ages 7-12. Based on Jean Fritz's 1976 book and narrated (in rather high-pitched tones) by Fritz herself, this iconographic book adaptation introduces the creative life of Boston-born Benjamin Franklin. Running away from the "leather apron" work of his candle- and soap-maker father to Philadelphia, Franklin became (among other things) an inventor, author, store proprietor, newspaper owner, postmaster general, and "America's most famous citizen." Zooms and pans of Margot Tomes' distinctive pen-and-ink drawings (occasional color is added in this video version), as well as archival prints, portraits, and selected Tomie dePaola illustrations from another Fritz title, add sparkle to this lively look at this remarkable American citizen. --Sue-Ellen Beauregard