John, Paul, George
and Ben

written and illustrated by Lane Smith

The illustrator from The Stinky Cheese Man has created an imaginative title with fictional childhood stories about a few of the founding fathers--each coinciding with a known personality trait:

- John Hancock is depicted as bold (due to his big signature on the Declaration of Independence)
- Paul Revere is depicted as loud (due to his role warning residents that 'The Redcoats are coming')

- Ben Franklin is depicted as clever (as he is known for his witty phrases and amazing inventions)
- George Washington is depicted as honest (as he is known for admitting that he cut down the cherry tree)
- Thomas Jefferson is depicted as independent (as he is known for his writings on liberty)  [and... Thomas Jefferson is not included in the title of this book because he is so independent that he was off doing something else at the time.]
Younger children may not get the humor, since most children will not have the foreknowledge that these men are known for these particular traits. The teacher could solve this by talking about the men ahead of time. At the end of the book, there is a spread with one or two sentences about each of the five men plus formal portraits. Before reading about section, turn to the back and read the appropriate summary. This will give away the joke a bit, but...hey, at least they will understand it. :)

As one would expect from Lane, this book is off-beat and quite funny! School Library Journal suggests you "exercise your freedom to scoop up this one."

Awards Won

  • School Library Journal Best Book of 2006
  • New York Times Best Illustrated 2006
  • Horn Book Magazine Fanfare Award  2006

Reading Levels

Interest Level:  Gr. 1-5               DRA Level:  38                    Lexile Measure: 660L
Grade Level Equiv: 3.5             Guided Reading: P

See Inside This Book

Below are sample spreads from inside this book.  To see larger versions of these spreads, simply click on the images below.

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