Aimed at a seven to ten-year old audience, author Candace Fleming’s own three words, “history meets hijinks,” sum up this story quite well. Ben Franklin and his stinky feet (apparently) travel through time to modern day Rolling Hills, Illinois, which, according to the main character, Nolan, is “the flattest place on earth.” This story is complete with history, science, action/adventure, and plenty of witty (but not too punny) humor.
Excellent illustrations augment the story. They are a mix of in-text drawings (think: Ben Franklin in a swimsuit, a homemade crystal radio, zooming fire engine, etc.) and several-page sections of comics inserted as part of the plot. Comic/graphic novel “interludes” capture stories about the creation of public libraries, cooking with electricity in Philadelphia, and the invention of swim fins. While the illustrations are all black and white, they are detailed, entertaining, and easy to comprehend. The book is 264 pages, but the font, spacing, and mix of illustrations make it approachable, and might just be the book to give confidence to young readers to tackle longer books. I found the story to be entertaining, educational, and a bit unexpected. It is really not about potty humor, despite first impressions, and I would definitely check out others in the History Pals series.
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