Learn more about CCRLS
Reading recommendations from Novelist
Online learning resources
Cover image for A dangerous engine : Benjamin Franklin, from scientist to diplomat
Format:
Title:
A dangerous engine : Benjamin Franklin, from scientist to diplomat
Other title(s):
Benjamin Franklin, from scientist to diplomat
Author:
ISBN:
9780374306694

9781415662571
Edition:
1st ed.
Publication Information:
New York : Frances Foster Books, 2006.
Physical Description:
246 pages : illustrations ; 21 cm
Contents:
At home in the laboratory: Dangling boy -- Elektor and Elektron -- King's picture -- Jar -- Magically magic squares -- "Let the experiment be made" -- Lightning electrifies France -- Puzzling kite -- Change of direction -- At large in the world: Pennsylvania's man in London -- Questions -- Franklin under siege -- To France on a secret mission -- Astonishing news from Saratoga -- Rough beginnings -- Wounding of a proud man -- "Oh, God! It's all over!" -- Making peace -- Coming home -- Bibliography -- Source notes -- Index.
Summary:
At the time of his famous kite experiment, Benjamin Franklin was unaware that his theories about electricity had already made him a celebrity all over Europe, especially in France, where fashionable circles loved to discuss scientific discovery. Admired by the French court and beloved by French citizens, Franklin effectively became America's first foreign diplomat, later helping to enlist France's military and financial support for the American Revolution. A father of the revolution and a signer of the Constitution, Franklin was a lightning rod in political circles - "a dangerous Engine," according to a critic. And although he devoted the last twenty-five years of his life to affairs of state, his first love was always science. Handsome pen-and-ink drawings highlight moments in this revolutionary thinker's life.
Added Author:
Holds:

Available:*

Library
Call Number
Status
Searching...
923 Franklin, Benjamin
Searching...
Searching...
J 921 Franklin, Benjamin 2006
Searching...

On Order

Summary

Summary

At the time of his famous kite experiment, Benjamin Franklin was unaware that his theories about electricity had already made him a celebrity all over Europe, especially in France, where fashionable circles loved to discuss scientific discovery. Admired by the French court and beloved by French citizens, Franklin effectively became America's first foreign diplomat, later helping to enlist France's military and financial support for the American Revolution. A father of the revolution and a
signer of the Constitution, Franklin was a lightning rod in political circles - "a dangerous Engine," according to a critic. And although he devoted the last twenty-five years of his life to affairs of state, his first love was always science. Handsome pen-and-ink drawings highlight moments in this revolutionary thinker's life. From the author and illustrator of "The Longitude Prize," a Robert F. Sibert Honor Book and winner of the "Boston"" Globe-Horn ""Book "Award, comes another story of adventure and invention, of one man's curiosity and the extraordinary rewards of his discoveries, just in time to celebrate the 300th anniversary of his birth (January 17, 1706).



Author Notes

JOAN DASH is the author of several notable books for young readers. She lives in Seattle, Washington. Dusan Petricic illustrated many acclaimed children's books. He lives in Toronto, Ontario.


Reviews 5

School Library Journal Review

Gr 7 Up-Franklin's long, productive, and interesting life is vividly recounted in a lively manner. Familiar aspects are covered, from his days as a printer in Philadelphia to his diplomatic service and his role in the development of the fledgling United States democracy. What may be new to some readers is Franklin's dedication to, and lifelong love of, science and invention. Dash discusses his interest in electricity and describes the experiments and pranks that he and his fellow "Franklinists" performed. On his many overseas voyages, Franklin carefully observed ocean life and measured the Gulf Stream. He invented a stove, a lightning rod, bifocals, and a "glass armonica" and carried on a spirited transatlantic correspondence with scientists in Europe. The author also explains the difficulty Franklin had with his son, who was a Loyalist during the Revolutionary War, as well as his fall from favor with members of Congress. Witty pen-and-ink illustrations appear throughout. Pair this book with Candace Fleming's Ben Franklin's Almanac (Atheneum, 2003). It will enrich the reading experience with its collection of period reproductions, facsimiles of newspapers and books, and primary-source material. Libraries owning James Cross Giblin's The Amazing Life of Benjamin Franklin (Scholastic, 2000) will still want A Dangerous Engine, which is for a slightly older audience.- Jennifer Ralston, Harford County Public Library, Belcamp, MD (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Publisher's Weekly Review

In this uneven biography, Dash (The Longitude Prize; We Shall Not Be Moved) explores Benjamin Franklin's evolution from scientist to diplomat before and during the Revolutionary War. The chapters devoted to science prove the most compelling, as Dash describes his impact as a scientist, from his invention of the bifocals, to his famous kite experiment with electricity to his "sentry-box" experiment (an early version of the lightning rod), which he described in a letter to the Royal Society and made him famous throughout Europe. Though science interested him most, Franklin gravitated more towards politics, first in Britain and then as the person most responsible for France's support of the American Revolution. ("The reason seems to have been his deep-seated belief that science was a pleasure, a luxury, while public life, especially in difficult times, was far more important than the desires of one individual," Dash asserts). Britain's ambassador to France, Lord Sturmont, was understandably mistrustful: "I look upon [Franklin] as a dangerous Engine." However, the section focused on this political period lacks the spark of the earlier section about his scientific endeavours, and often seems to meander. The insightful, sometimes whimsical and worldly illustrations by Petricic capture the spirit of the man and the times. But ultimately, the text never quite adds up to a clear portrait of Franklin, his interests and his beliefs. Ages 10-up. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


Horn Book Review

(Intermediate, Middle School) Seamlessly integrating coverage of the personal, scientific, and political dimensions of Franklin's long life, Dash's absorbing biography is split roughly in half between discussion of Franklin's experiments with electricity and his career representing colonial and U.S. interests in Europe. In the first half, science as both a pursuit and an amusement of the wealthy is at the forefront. Dash goes into great depth on the science of electricity as understood at the time, thoroughly explaining Franklin's contributions to an international scientific community as well as his propensity for practical scientific tricks (such as electrifying his front gate in order to give visitors a shock). The second half of the book focuses on Franklin's political appointments in Europe, showing the critical role he played in securing funds for the American Revolution and the ultimate end of his career (due in part to his excessive expenditures). The book's strength is in how Dash constructs a personal history of a very public man. Through smart, selective use of Franklin's correspondence, Dash keeps readers close to the thoughts and personalities of the book's historical figures as they live through both extraordinary and ordinary events. Petricic's black-and-white illustrations are a fine complement to the text; clever and subtle, they thoughtfully interpret the narrative. Appended are a bibliography, detailed source notes, and an index. (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. All rights reserved.


Kirkus Review

Dash ably covers Franklin's life from first days to last, but what sets this apart from the plethora of similar portraits is her particular focus on his lifelong interest in science and invention. Ever the amateur, he gathered a group of like-minded "Franklinists" to perform electrical experiments and pranks, like electrifying the iron fence around his house, "for the amusement of visitors," writes Dash. He took measurements of the Gulf Stream, closely observed natural phenomena on land and sea, fiddled with magic squares and corresponded regularly with many fellow enquirers on both sides of the Atlantic--along with inventing (though deliberately never patenting) a stove, the lightning rod, bifocals, the "glass armonica" and much else. Characterizing Franklin as a "speckled" man, who "changed, took up new roles, found new motives within himself" over his long career, Dash also recounts his later diplomatic triumphs in full, without glossing over his youthful misadventures or occasional lack of candor. Readers will come away with a profound understanding of this great man's mind, heart, achievements and--with some help from Petricic's witty line drawings--sense of fun. (annotated bibliography, end notes) (Biography. 12+) Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.


Booklist Review

Dash explores Franklin's postretirement scientific and diplomatic activities in detail for YA readers. Having gained recognition abroad for his ideas about electricity, "the most famous citizen of the Western world" was well poised to serve as an ambassador of the colonies--first to England, then to France, where Parisians lined the streets to welcome him. As in Dash's The Longitude Prize 0 (2000), the discussion here is challenging, whether addressing science history or subtle political minuets; it's no surprise that the bibliography contains primarily books published for adults. However, readers who persist will emerge with an expanded view both of Franklin the man (far from a salt-of-the-earth American, he was viewed by many as morally questionable, even unpatriotic) and of the Revolutionary War itself. Dash's appealing, informal author's notes source quotes and occasionally explain how her assertions jibe with other scholars' views; Petricic's droll artwork interprets events with a wit that America's first political cartoonist surely would have appreciated. --Jennifer Mattson Copyright 2006 Booklist