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Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Book Review: Ben Franklin of Old Philadelphia by Margaret Cousins

SERIES: Landmark Books, Book #28
AUTHOR: Margaret Cousins 
PUBLISHER: Random House Books for Young Readers
PUBLICATION DATE: January 27, 2004 (first published December 12, 1963)
FORMAT: Paperback, 160 pages 
GENRE: Non-fiction, Biography
ISBN: 9780394849287
Benjamin Franklin was one of the busiest men in the American colonies. He was a printer, a postmaster, an inventor, a writer, and a diplomat. When the Revolutionary War began, Ben supported America in the Continental Congress. Like the clever adages from his Poor Richard's Almanac , Ben Franklin still sets an example for Americans today.


I read this biography aloud to my children.

Until I read this book, I had no idea how brilliant Ben Franklin was! When I think of Franklin, I think about how he had flown a kite in a thunderstorm with a metal key attached to the string and felt the electric shock in his hand. I knew he invented the lightning rod and proved that electricity and lightning are identical, and I had heard of the Franklin stove, but I did not realize the extent of his inventions! He had only one year of formal education, and he is the epitome of a homeschooler! All that he learned was largely self-taught.

Franklin would be a remarkable man to meet. Some of his accomplishments that I was unaware of include: invention of bifocals and the stepladder, the first to notice that the Gulf Stream was different than the surrounding waters, founded the first circulating library in America, organized the first volunteer fire department in Philadelphia, and made the postal system more efficient. He was the first to diagnose lead poisoning, and he wasn't even a medical doctor! His observations regarding how colds are transmitted are consistent with what we know today about germs and viruses.

What a truly extraordinary and inspiring man! As my kids noted, he seems to have invented everything! What would America be like today if he had never existed? We loved this book, and we plan to read other books in this series.


  1. I love Ben Franklin! We read some of his works in my college American Literature class and he was such an intelligent and interesting man. Makes me wish we could travel back in time and meet some of these people. I know your kids must have enjoyed the book. Nice review, Darlene!

    1. Thanks, Michelle! After we finished the book, we all agreed that we'd love to travel back in time to talk to this fascinating man!

  2. I have not seen "Landmark" books since my kids were growing up and reading them. I see original publication date was 1963 on this one. Tbat would be about the right time. Were you provided a complimentary copy of this book to review? If so, I would really like to know how to make contact.

    1. Hi, Vera! This was not a review copy but one that I had purchased myself.

  3. Hey Darlene! I love your blog. I recently reviewed John Adams by David McCullough. You might find it interesting since you just read about Benjamin Franklin! New follower!

    1. Thanks, Amy! I don't have the John Adams book, but I'll be sure to check that one out! It fits in with this time period. I'm going over to check out your blog!


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