Sunday, November 26, 2006

Review: Blast from the Past: Ben Franklin's Fame

This book was reviewed by Alice Herold, new reviewer at Big A little a.

Throw away the history books! Order the series, Blast From The Past by Stacia Deutsch and Rhody Cohon (illustrated by Guy Francis).

As elementary school teachers, we are faced with the impossible task of teaching language arts and math standards with only minutes left for social studies and science. Reading the Blast from the Past series aloud would be a way to combine language arts and social studies. Better yet, order a class set and use it as a springboard for an in-depth study of famous Americans or for studying (and creating) inventions.

I read Blast from the Past: Ben Franklin's Fame. How refreshing for the children to learn about the innovative, creative mind of Ben Franklin. Creativity has been left behind in the wake of skill, drill, and kill! The authors deftly combine learning in the guise of a two hour time travel trip. They cleverly combine fiction (Deutsch) with fact (Cohon). They even include a timeline of Franklin's life. Aside to standards police--Reading a timeline is a California state standard.

Abigail, a 3rd grader, along with 3 of her friends belong to a History Club, which meets each Monday (sponsored by Mr. Caruthers, a beloved social studies teacher). Abigail and friends have been commissioned to stop history from being rewritten by Babs Magee. They jump into a time travel machine created by their mentor and trace Ben Franklin's life from Philadelphia when he signed the Declaration of Independence all the way back to 1718 when he was just a child. (The author interjects that Franklin loved to read more than anything else. This was a wise comment, not unnoticed by the teacher part of me.) The authors allotted a few pages at the end of the book to separate fact from fiction. In conclusion, take a time travel machine (the fastest one possible) to your nearest bookshop and support the creative endeavors of Deutsch and Cohon!