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John, Paul, George and Benby Lane Smith
A Book Sense 2006 Summer Children's Pick
A charming introduction to the Founding Fathers, John, Paul, George, and Ben is filled with Lane Smith's characteristic whimsical and sly illustrations not to mention his hilarious take on history! Sure to please picture book lovers of all ages.
Synopses & Reviews
Once there were four lads...
and Ben [Franklin].
Oh yes, there was also Tom [Jefferson], but he was annoyingly independent and hardly ever around.
These lads were always getting into trouble for one reason or another. In other words, they took a few...liberties. And to be honest, they were not always appreciated.
This is the story of five little lads before they became five really big Founding Fathers.
"For those constitutionally opposed to history lessons, Smith (Math Curse) profiles the Founding Fathers as the nonconformist kids they might have been. Beatles allusions, like the title, are mercifully few but well-placed ('Say, you want a revolution —' the narrator asks, referring to 1776) as Smith introduces each fellow. 'Once there were four lads....Make that five lads. There was also Independent Tom (always off doing his own thing).' Paul, a boy whose penchant for loud bell-ringing leaves him with a tendency to yell, works in a shop where his voice embarrasses customers: "'Extra-large underwear — Sure we have some! Let's see....Here they are! Great, big, extra-large underwear!'"....It took many years and a midnight ride for people to finally appreciate his special talent.' Meanwhile, John has excellent, if ostentatious, penmanship. George is known for his honesty, and the cherry-tree incident gets wry treatment here. Know-it-all Ben spouts aphorisms, irritating his classmates, and Tom gets a time-out in school for refusing to build a balsa-wood birdhouse and instead using 'traditional materials in a neoclassical design' (à la Monticello). In weathered shades of brick-red, parchment white and antique blue, layered with collage details from period primers and designed with Early American typefaces, Smith imagines each child's eccentric playground manners. His likenesses of famous faces and 1700s fashion invigorate textbook accounts, and he rounds off the volume with familiar oil paintings of his subjects and short captions on their actual accomplishments. The book closes with 'ye olde True or False section,' as hilarious as it is informative, a wonderful complement to this singular blend of parody and historically accurate events. Ages 5-up." Publishers Weekly(Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Lane Smith makes history more fascinating than one can imagine....Smith's use of varied media creates an illusion of a crackled veneer associated with the time period. History should never be dull and, believe me, it is not here." Children's Literature
"Deftly drawn, witty, and instantly appealing....The artwork and design are excellent and adults will chortle, but this book seems likely to confuse children unfamiliar with the period." Booklist
"While children will love the off-the-wall humor, there is plenty for adult readers to enjoy." School Library Journal
"Humor, both broad...and sly reminds readers that books hold many discoveries, and quite a bit of ye olde fun." Horn Book
"A history review with underwear jokes — how can you beat that?" The Bulletin
As young lads, America's Founding Fathers were always getting into trouble: John's handwriting was too big, Paul's ear-splitting bell ringing made him talk too loudly, George was too honest for his own good, and Ben was always talking in proverbs. Readers young and old will love this new take on history.
About the Author
Smith received a B.F.A. degree from Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, CA.
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