How Benjamin Franklin Became a Revolutionary in Seven (Not-So-Easy) Steps

by Gretchen Woelfle (Author) John O'Brien (Illustrator)

Reading Level: 4th − 5th Grade
How did Ben Franklin become an outspoken leader of the American Revolution? Learn all about it in seven (not-so-easy) steps in this humorous, accessible middle-grade chapter book that focuses on Ben’s political awakening.

Famous founding father Benjamin Franklin was a proud subject of the British Empire—until he wasn’t. It took nearly seventy years and seven not-so-easy steps to turn Benjamin Franklin from a loyal British subject to a British traitor—and a fired-up American revolutionary.

In this light, whimsical narrative, young readers learn how Franklin came to be a rebel, beginning with his childhood lesson in street smarts when he buys a whistle at an inflated price. Franklin is a defiant boy who runs away from his apprenticeship, and while he becomes a deep thinker, a brilliant scientist, and a persuasive writer when he grows up, he never loses that spark. As a community leader who tries his best to promote peace and unity both between the colonies and with Great Britain, he becomes more and more convinced that independence for the American colonies is the way forward.

Illustrated throughout with art by noted New Yorker cartoonist and illustrator John O’Brien and sprinkled with quotations from Franklin, this unfamiliar story of a familiar figure in American history will surprise and delight young readers.
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Starred Review
A superb tribute to a foresighted patriot in peace and war.


Review quotes

Gretchen Woelfle's delightful book weaves a tapestry of wisdom from Benjamin Franklin's extraordinary and multifaceted life, a life that prepared him for his ultimate challenge as the revolutionary leader and Founding Father. Her seven steps are a roadmap for young readers to build the 'milestones' in their own lives for a successful future, maybe even a revolutionary one. —Mark Barbour, executive director and curator, International Printing Museum
Gretchen Woelfle
Gretchen Woelfle is the author of multiple award-winning fiction and nonfiction books for young readers. Her books include Answering the Cry for Freedom, Mumbet's Declaration of Independence, and Write On, Mercy!, both of which received the California Reading Association's Eureka! Silver Award, among many other honors.

John O'Brien has illustrated over 100 books for children. His titles include Revolutionary Rogues: John André and Benedict Arnold by Selene Castrovilla and Thomas Jefferson Builds a Library by Barb Rosenstock. John is also a cartoonist for many magazines and newspapers, most notably The New Yorker, New York Times, and Esquire.
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Calkins Creek Books
Publication date
October 20, 2023
BISAC categories
JNF038100 - Juvenile Nonfiction | People & Places | United States
JNF007070 - Juvenile Nonfiction | Biography & Autobiography | Political
JNF025190 - Juvenile Nonfiction | History | United States/Colonial & Revolutionary
Library of Congress categories
United States
Revolution, 1775-1783
Franklin, Benjamin

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