Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Review: Ben Franklin's Big Splash

Ben Franklin's Big Splash: The Mostly True Story of His First InventionBen Franklin's Big Splash: The Mostly True Story of His First Invention by Barb Rosenstock

Ben Franklin's Big Splash is fictionalized telling of one his first invention - swim fins and swim sandals. When he swam in the local river (Boston's Charles River), he observed the fish and the way they moved in the water. Ben wondered if he could create something that would help him move as fast as fish.

I listened to Ben Franklin's Big Splash while paging through the printed version of the story. The pacing was done very well. There are no page cues, but pauses between pages so readers can turn at the appropriate time. This story can be enjoyed with our without the picture biography book.

Barb Rosenstock wrote an active story while highlighting "s" words. I counted over 50 "s" words in the first ten pages of the book. Narrator Susie Berneis read the abundance of "s" words very well. She didn't over or under pronounce any of them just read them smoothly as the story progressed. It sounded like a story, not a tongue twister with "s" vocabulary. Well done!

Music and sound effects were added to this audiobook edition. The sound effects chosen fit the pictures of the story. They were subtle and added to the story, rather than took away from it. I really enjoyed the opening and closing music, which they also used again during the high points of the story - the inventions! The music selected was comprised of musical instruments and a tune that could have been heard during Franklin's life time. It sounded very colonial with drums and fifes. I think it would have been fun to add some glass armonica music to the story, but drums and fifes fit much better. And I am unsure if anyone would recognize the sound of an armonica. I just "discovered" the armonica last month and it has a very unique sound that could be perceived as eerie or ear-piercing rather than historical to listeners.

This book could be shared at any time of the year, but it could be highlighted during a unit on Colonial America, Inventors, or Swimming and Water. I think the target age is elementary students, but anyone with an interest in Ben Franklin would also enjoy this glimpse into Franklin's youth.

The audiobook solely features the story and two quotes of Franklin, but the picture book also shares a timeline, some of Franklin's inventions, and an author's note. Out of all the extras, the author's note would have been a nice addition to the audiobook. Rosenstock shares more about Ben Franklin and his swimming in her note to the readers.

Reviewed from an Audiobook Jukebox copy. Thank you, Dreamscape Media, LLC!

Dreamscape Media, LLC

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