Books, History, Science/Math

PPBF: Ben Franklin’s Big Splash

Sorry the blog’s been so quiet, ya’ll. Following the whirlwind of the holidays, I’m now on deadline for two books with my publisher, Rourke Educational Media, and working on a third for a reading program. I took a short break to bring you a book I’ve been wanting to share for a while…

TITLE:  Ben Franklin’s Big Splash

AUTHOR: Barb Rosenstock

ILLUSTRATOR: S. D. Schindler

PUBLICATION INFO: Calkins Creek, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-62091-446-5

SOURCE: personal library


GENRE: historical fiction picture book


“Before the world knew the famous Doctor Benjamin Franklin, his neighbors knew him as Ben, the sturdy, saucy, smelly son of a soap-maker — the boy who, on sweltering summer days, snuck away from stirring soap and snipping candlewicks in his father’s shop to head straight for the river…”

From the publisher:

“Ben Franklin loved to swim and, at the age of eleven, he was determined to swim like a fish—fins and all! This fascinating and lively account of young Ben’s earliest invention follows the budding scientist’s journey as he tests and retests his swim fins. That first big splash led Ben to even more innovations and inventions. Includes Franklin quotes, a timeline, bibliography, and source notes.”

THEMES/TOPICS: history, invention

WHY I LIKE THIS BOOK: I read this one with my six-year-old last night, and he could totally relate to Ben’s passion for swimming. Plus, Ben swims in the buff, which kids find hilarious. (Don’t worry, Schindler keeps Ben modest.) As a parent, I appreciated that Ben’s swim fins and sandals didn’t work out as planned, but he didn’t give up. And just when the six-year-old wanted to know about Ben’s other inventions, I turned the page to find back matter highlighting some of Ben’s contributions.


  • What would you invent: What problems do you see around you? How could you solve them with a new invention? Draw a sketch or write a paragraph describing your ideas.
  • Ready to put your ideas to the test? NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab has a great video series on science fairs, which includes an overview of the engineering design process similar to Ben’s swim fin efforts.
  • PBS has eight lesson plans to accompany its series about Benjamin Franklin. Learn about inventions, newspapers, and more.

You’ll find way more cool books at Susanna Leonard Hill’s “Perfect Picture Books.” Every Friday folks review a host of new books. Join us!

27 thoughts on “PPBF: Ben Franklin’s Big Splash”

  1. This sounds great, Kirsten. I used to always think of inventions. I would never to any good at making prototypes though. Nice to hear from you!

  2. You sold me. This is a great book to help kids understand that a famous man like Franklin was a kid once, and to learn where his early curiosity began. Swimming fins — who would have guessed. Love books like this.

  3. Thanks to Ben, I enjoyed my vacation (snorkeling!). He was a renaissance man with his finger in so many aspects of life, not surprised that it started in childhood. Looks like a great book.

  4. I learned of Ben Franklin’s swimming passion in Kristen Fulton’s Nonfiction Archaeology class. It’s fascinating to learn new things about the “famous” people from the past.

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