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Benjamin Frankin was a proud citizen of America all his life.

And a proud subject of the British Empire

Until he wasn't.

It took nearly seventy years to turn Franklin into a British traitor -- and a fired-up American revolutionary.


KIRKUS REVIEWS starred review

"Deftly threading in quotes from her ever-quotable subject and dividing his life into formative experiences, Woelfle begins on a metaphorical note with 7-year-old Ben naïvely overpaying for a coveted toy: "Step #1 / Benjamin Franklin learned early, 'Do not give too much for the Whistle.'" From there she goes on to describe his long campaign to keep relations amicable between Britain and its American colonies. She points to the quick evolution of his views on slavery and also to his prescient proposal (in 1754!) that the colonies would greatly benefit from a union based on that of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy until at last he came to realize that "losing his 'rights and liberties' was too high a price to pay for any whistle—or any empire." Along with tracing the general arc of Franklin's rise in the commercial, scientific, and diplomatic realms, the author offers sidelights on some of his pastimes and inventions before closing with backmatter that includes separate reading lists for adult and younger readers. Woelfle's dynamic approach results in a personal, probing portrait of the Founding Father. In O'Brien's tongue-in-cheek ink drawings, small period figures with paper-white skin gesticulate, scurry about busily, or, in one amusing scene, fall comically victim to one of Franklin's infamous electrical pranks.

A superb tribute to a foresighted patriot in peace and war." (author's and illustrator's notes, timeline, websites) (Biography. 8-10)        



"Gretchen Woelfle's delightful biography weaves a tapestry of wisdom from Ben Franklin's extraordinary life, finding nuggets of wisdom and inspiration from each decade of his life. Gretchen's story skillfully pulls together the various facets of Franklin's life that prepared him for his ultimate challenge as the revolutionary leader and Founding Father needed to birth a new nation. 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


I’m Gretchen Woelfle (that’s Wolf-lee) and I'm a children's author. I've published picture books, short stories, essays, one novel, biographies, and environmental books.


I am most curious -- some would say nosy -- about people who do extraordinary things. Some are already famous. Others, like Jeannette Rankin, should be more famous. And so I write their stories.

Most days I work at home. Some days I go to schools to talk about my books. It tickles my fancy to meet my readers.

I love to travel the world looking for stories, sometimes on a bicycle. I've lived high in the Himalayas and on a tiny island in the Pacific Ocean. I've also found stories in my own Los Angeles backyard!