Thursday, June 29, 2017

Benjamin Franklinstein Lives! by Matthew McElligott and Larry Tuxbury

I picked this up because I have a lot of fans of McElligott's picture books (myself included) and somehow hadn't realized he'd written a middle grade book.

Victor is obsessed with science, good grades, and worrying about his mom and their falling-down house. He knows he doesn't have many (or any) friends, but isn't really sure what he should do about it, or if he really cares. Then his mom ignores all the rules he's given her and rents their extra room to a complete stranger off the street! A very strange stranger, who just happens to be dressed like Ben Franklin.... The next thing Victor knows, he's chasing an energy-hungry Franklin zombie all over town, trying to find the lost Modern Order of Prometheus, and keep Franklin "alive", all while still producing an award-winning (i.e. top graded) science project!

The hairsbreadth escapes and adventures are interspersed with information about Franklin, colonial America, and the science of Franklin's day. There's also interesting tidbits of history. Franklin presents an interesting perspective on science and history, encouraging Victor to stop worrying so much about doing things right and getting good grades and be willing to experiment, invent, and fail (sometimes spectacularly!). At 120 pages this is a fast read and sometimes the language felt choppy and the plot contrived, but it will be suitable for struggling tween readers or high-level younger readers who can handle the scientific language and excerpts from original advertisements and documents.

Verdict: I enjoyed this and I think many kids will like the brisk action, historical and scientific aspects, and of course zombies! It will also fit into the requests I get for blends of fiction and science. I don't know if I'll go back and purchase it and the two sequels currently available, but I will certainly recommend it.

ISBN: 9780399252297; Published 2010 by Putnam; Borrowed from another library in my consortium

No comments: