(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

It is not surprising that Meltzer chose Benjamin Franklin as the subject for a biography. The author loves history. He has an abiding respect for the accomplishments of those who begin with few advantages and achieve much. Furthermore, Meltzer's special fondness for printing may have also contributed to his interest in America's most famous printer; he had already written a biography of another printer's apprentice, Mark Twain. His historical works The American Revolutionaries: A History in Their Own Words, 1750- 1800 (1987) and George Washington and the Birth of Our Nation (1986), provided background for Franklin's time.

For those who are accustomed to seeing Franklin as only a wise old man, it is refreshing and novel to discover the whole Benjamin Franklin, to learn about Ben the boy, who was not at all sure what he wanted to be. After several unsuccessful attempts at a career, Franklin became a printer's helper, and his early life as an apprentice is engagingly told. Certainly for young adults struggling to find a meaningful profession, Franklin's experiences are illuminating. If finding a profession was not hard enough for the youngster, Franklin's early life was definitely not a series of successes. He faced defeat as often as victory. He entered adult life broke and penniless. Every time something good happened, it seemed like victory was snatched from him. Eventually, through perseverance, Franklin did succeed, becoming one of...

(The entire section is 233 words.)