icon caret-left icon caret-right instagram pinterest linkedin facebook twitter goodreads question-circle facebook circle twitter circle linkedin circle instagram circle goodreads circle pinterest circle

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

"Benjamin Franklin was a proud citizen of America all his life. 

And a proud subject of the British Empire.

Until he wasn't."


Under British rule Franklin prospered as a printer, writer, publisher, and politician. But when the British Parliament began chipping away at the colonies' right to govern themselves, Americans rebelled. At first Franklin used all his wit and wisdom to path up the quarrel. When that failed, his dream of a strong Empire died. But a new dream was born--an independent America.


KIRKUS (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