This irreverent children’s book gives a remarkable glimpse of the events of colonial America, contrasted with a humorous look at the angst and challenges of being a boy dealing with peer pressure, a blended family, and the blush of first romance. I love the sarcastic comments that portray Ike’s reasoning, but I think Ben Franklin’s responses will undoubtedly make the younger reader (and some of us old folks as well, lol) groan through the list of new vocabulary words that have to be looked up, although I think this is a fun way to learn about key events in history…not to mention the unusual antics kids get up to. Be forewarned, there is a risk to meddling with history (and with an adult’s treasured stamp collection), and this book ends with an exciting cliffhanger!
“Benjamin Franklin: Huge Pain in my ***” by Adam Mansbach and Alan Zweibel is a children’s story that follows Franklin Isaac (Ike) Saturday as he deals with the annoyances of completing an assignment about the historical figure, Benjamin Franklin, even as he copes with the normal pressures of junior high. His unexpected correspondence with the famous Founding Father becomes an intriguing resource, especially when he needs advice about his rocky relationship with the girl he has a crush on, Claire Wanzandae. Unfortunately, Ike’s zeal to inform the forefather of certain key events threatens to disrupt history and reminds one of the danger of too much knowledge.
Dear Mr. Franklin,
First of all, let me just say that this Assignment is Stupid. You are Dead. Why am I writing a letter to Some dead guy I've never even met?
This is the start to a most unlikely pen pal relationship between thirteen-year-old Franklin Isaac Saturday (Ike) and Benjamin Franklin. Before the fateful extra credit assignment that started it all, Ike's life was pretty normal. He was avoiding the popularity contests of middle school, crushing hard on Clare Wanzandae and trying not roll his eyes at his stepfather, Dirk-the-Jerk's lame jokes.
But all that changes when, in a successful effort to make Claire Wanzandae laugh, Ike mails his homework assignment to Ben Franklin and he writes back. Soon, things go awry. After Ike has an embarrassing moment of epic proportions in front of Claire involving a playground, non-alcoholic beer, and a lot of kettle corn, Ike decides he needs to find a way to win Claire back. With some help from his new friend, B-Fizzle, can Ike get the girl and make his mark in history?
Age Range: 10 - 14 years / Grade Level: 5 - 9