Published by Schwartz & Wade
Summary: When Nolan and his younger sister Olivia receive a package containing an antique crystal radio set, they’re unsure about how it works. They try twisting dials and flipping switches, and before they know it, they have conjured up Benjamin Franklin from the year 1789. Ben is quite taken with the 21st century, and insists on going on a tour to see how some of his creations, like the public library and fire station, are faring. Along the way, he shares stories from his life, told in comic book style. People are startled, but charmed, by the eccentric old man wandering around town with the two children, and Franklin thoroughly enjoys himself until he starts contemplating the possibility of never seeing his 18th-century friends and family again. Nolan, who is dealing with an absent father, is sympathetic and finds a way to send his new friend back home. Billed as Book 1 in the History Pals series, the illustration of the radio offers some hints about what other times in history are planned for the rest of the series. Includes a 10-page section at the end with more information about Franklin, including a bibliography and websites. 272 pages; grades 2-5.
Pros: Readers won’t realize they’re getting a dose of history education in this fast and funny tale. A large font, plenty of illustrations, and frequent comic book page inserts make this a good choice for reluctant readers.
Cons: The bathroom/toilet front cover may turn off some adults; there’s actually very little bathroom humor.