This book is based on a passage in a letter (helpfully included in the book’s back matter) where Franklin describes his youthful invention of a swimming aid: swim fins and flippers! Using that single paragraph as her starting point, Barb Rosenstock imagines the process young Ben Franklin–or anyone–would follow to invent something new.
The book is a buoyant read. Every page is filled with “s” alliteration in lists of verbs telling what Franklin did to develop his invention:
sketched…snapped up…shaped…sanded…strung on…strapped on
sprinted…stood…stripped off…strapped…stuck…spread…stomped…splashed in…sunk
And this is just the beginning of the “s” lists! Many of the verbs are helpfully highlighted, which would make this book a dream to teach in a lesson on alliteration.
Ben’s invention doesn’t really work that well. In fact, you could say it was a belly flop. But Rosenstock’s text leaves us with a shiver of giddiness rather than a feeling of defeat.
It’s a fun story about the process of invention, the scientific method, and one of America’s founding father. What’s not to like?
Ben Franklin’s Big Splash: The Mostly True Story of His First Invention by Barb Rosenstock, illustrated by S.D. Schindler. Calkins Creek: 2014