John, Paul, George & Ben

by Lane Smith (Author) Lane Smith (Illustrator)

John, Paul, George & Ben
Reading Level: 2nd − 3rd Grade
Once there were four lads...John [Hancock], Paul [Revere], George [Washington], 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.

School Library Journal

Starred Review
Gr 2-5 -Describing each man in turn as either bold, noisy, honest, clever, or independent, and taking many liberties with the truth, Smith relates how the Founding Fathers of the title -and Jefferson, too -played a part in securing America -s freedom. Hancock -s penchant for sprawling his name across the chalkboard as a child led to his boldly writing the biggest signature on the Declaration of Independence. Revere -s loud voice selling underwear in his shop came in handy when he had to scream -The Redcoats are coming! - Washington -s honest admission to chopping down trees led to his serving as president in New York City where there were few forests. Well, you get the idea. The pen-and-ink cartoon illustrations, richly textured with various techniques, add to the fun. Page turns reveal droll surprises such as young bewigged George, axe in hand and already missing some teeth, surveying his felled orchard, or Franklin -s rejoinder when the townspeople express their vexation with his clever sayings. Early American typefaces, parchment grounds, and vestiges of 18th-century life, like chamber pots and hoop toys, evoke a sense of the time. A true-and-false section in the back separates fact from fiction. While children will love the off-the-wall humor, there is plenty for adult readers to enjoy, too -the clever fly leaf, puns ( - -&that bell-ringing took a toll on young Paul -), and more. Exercise your freedom to scoop up this one." -Marianne Saccardi, formerly at Norwalk Community College, CT" Copyright 2006 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Publishers Weekly

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 thatfive lads. There was also Independent Tom (always off doing hisown 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.(Apr.) Copyright 2006 Publishers Weekly Used with permission.
Lane Smith
Lane Smith is an American writer and illustrator who specializes in reinventions of classic stories. He studied art at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California.
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication date
April 20, 2006
Black-Eyed Susan Award
Nominee 2007 - 2008
Virginia Readers Choice Award
Winner 2008 - 2008
Beehive Awards
Nominee 2008 - 2008
Capitol Choices: Noteworthy Books for Children and Teens
Recommended 2007 - 2007
Young Hoosier Book Award
Nominee 2010 - 2010
California Young Reader Medal
Winner 2011 - 2011

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