HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: Ben and Me
Author and Illustrator: Robert Lawson
Publisher: Little Brown Books for Young Readers, republished in 1998
Language level: 3 (an occasional veiled curse word, unfortunately)
Reading level: Ages 10-14
Rating: 4 stars (GOOD)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Lawson, Robert. Ben and Me (published in 1939 by Little, Brown and Co., New York City, NY, now an AOL Time Warner company). This book is a classic. Several years ago, when our older son Mark was in the hospital at Cincinnati, OH, for ear surgery, we saw the Disney animated short Ben and Me (which I had never even heard of before) on the television there, and it is enjoyable. The book by Robert Lawson upon which it was based is “a new and astonishing life of Benjamin Franklin as written by his good mouse Amos” in which Amos becomes Ben’s helper and recounts how he was responsible for many of Franklin’s inventions and discoveries.
Mark liked it so much that my wife Karen got the book from the library for him to read. Several years later Lawson wrote Mr. Revere and I (1953) “an account of certain episodes in the career of Paul Revere, Esq., as revealed by his horse, Scherezade” in which the life of the Revere family and the doings of the Sons of Liberty are told from the point of view of Paul Revere’s horse. These books are wonderful historical fiction which we eventually purchased and did as read alouds.
The only problems which I had to edit out were a number of references to drinking wine, brandy, and ale, and several colloquial euphemisms such as by Gad, egad, and blasted. The captain of the ship that took Ben (and Amos) to France is said to have used profanity, but no specific “bad words” are recorded. However, I was disappointed that in Mr. Revere and I, an English soldier says “Damme” (British idiom for “d*m* me”). Otherwise, these are very imaginative ways to learn a little more about a couple of the heroes of the American Revolution. Lawson also wrote the story of Captain Kidd’s Cat, among others.