#PPBF – John, Paul, George and Ben


Is it Friday already? I can’t believe it! Time is truly moving at warp-factor (any Star Trek fans out there?) speed.


star trek

Photo courtesy: http://www.courrierinternational.com


Well, since today is Friday, I’ve picked out a special picture book to review. I know how overwhelming it can be to walk into the library and have to choose from the thousands that are available. So after you are finished here, please hop over to Susanna Leonard Hill’s blog where you will find a bunch more hand-picked picture book reviews with activities for you and your child. If you are a mom, teacher or librarian, please check out Susanna’s amazing Perfect Picture Book page with over 1000 categorized picture book reviews and activities.


It’s definitely hard to find time to spend with your kids. Especially if you work outside the home. I watch my daughter’s struggle with this. She leaves early in the morning, as soon as her son’s school bus picks him up. And then her day is filled with work-related responsibilities. By 5:30pm, she is zooming to pick Jeremy up at his after school daycare. There is barely enough time to grab dinner, take a bath and brush teeth before it is time for him to go to sleep.

But, whether you work outside the home or at home or even if your ‘only’ job is being a homemaker and parent (please notice the quotes around the word only – being a homemaker and a parent is a full-time job…those who have other jobs must become masters of juggling), I’d like to offer a great parenting tip – if you only have 5 minutes, that is enough time to read a picture book. You will be building a bond with your child and helping increase his/her literacy skills, especially if you take a few minutes to talk with your child about the story after you read it. And here’s a great one to start with!



Written and illustrated by Lane Smith

Publisher: Hyperion Books for Children (2006)

Ages: 3-7

Themes: American history, being true to yourself


Opening Lines:

John was a bold lad. At the start of every school year the students were asked to write their names on the chalkboard and every year it was the same story. “John,” his teacher would say, “you have lovely penmanship. Hoh, your confidence is refreshing. But, Joh, c’mon…we don’t need to read it from space!”



A funny, punny look at five of our Founding Fathers: John Hancock, Paul Revere, George Washington, Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson.
Why I like this book:

  • This book is hilarious! Especially for parents! But kids will enjoy the humor as well
  • The text and illustrations remind me of an old newspaper or almanac – with a stencil/woodblock feel
  • The content will get kids thinking about history in a whole new way

How a parent can use this book:

  • Great read-aloud
  • The text is very sparse and large – kids who are just learning to read will enjoy picking out the words they recognize
  • Talk about the traits of each of the boys – bold, independent, honest, clever, noisy – how did those traits help the boys when they grew older? How would you like to be remembered?


Related Activity:



Stenciling is lots of fun. You can buy stencil sets in your local department stores (they have shape stencils and letter and alphabet stencils or you can make them yourself from construction paper or by finding household items of the shapes you want. Cookie cutters make awesome stencils! And so do leaves – why not grab some of those beautiful autumn ones that are starting to cover the ground?

You will need: Stencils, construction paper, markers or crayons.

  1. Pick the stencils you want to use and place them on the paper.
  2. Use markers or crayons to draw the outlines and then fill in.
  3. Makes great wrapping paper for gifts.

Here’s a link for more stencil crafts: http://www.all-about-stencils.com/crafts-for-kids.html

Thank you so much for stopping by – your time is very valuable and I appreciate that you are spending some of it with me.

About viviankirkfield

Writer for children - Reader forever - Mom of 3, educator, author of FOUR OTTERS TOBOGGAN: AN ANIMAL COUNTING BOOK (PomegranateKids, March 15, 2019), PIPPA'S PASSOVER PLATE (Holiday House, Feb 13, 2019), SWEET DREAMS, SARAH (Creston Books, May 1, 2019); MAKING THEIR VOICES HEARD: THE INSPIRING FRIENDSHIP OF ELLA FITZGERALD AND MARILYN MONROE (Little Bee Books, Spring 2020); FROM HERE TO THERE: INVENTIONS THAT CHANGED THE WAY THE WORLD MOVES (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Fall 2020) picture book junkie, lover of travel, hiking, fly-fishing, cooking, and playing Monopoly with my young grandson.

Posted on October 3, 2014, in Author/Illustrator Lane Smith, Perfect Picture Book Friday and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 25 Comments.

  1. This sounds like a fun way for me to brush up on this history. COOL title!


  2. I just finished reading “The Worst of Friends” about John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. It was fantastic! This one sounds like it might be up a similar alley. Thanks for pointing it out!


  3. I love Lane Smith. This book cracked me up. My almost-eight-year-old love the what’s fact/fiction section in the back. It was fun to guess.


  4. I just read this book recently, as part of Jodell Sadler’s Picture Book Pacing class. I LOVE it! I can’t think of a better way to get children interested in history than presenting it in such a funny, accessible way.


    • I know, Sandy…I wish these funny informative books (and the attitude that history can be hilariously presented) had been around years ago. Oh well…there is definitely a need to fill…this is our opportunity to do that. 🙂 🙂 I’m in the October Pacing class…just put a hold on 66 picture books at the library. 🙂


  5. Ah, history, right up my alley! Will definitely take a look….


  6. I really love Lane Smith, but am not familiar with this gem. Love how they’ve made the book appear to fit the period in history. Will have to check it out.


  7. I love this one! And the catchy title, too . . .


    • So catchy, Jarm…I guess it’s true what they say about titles…they are very important…and this one is totally clever. Makes me smile whenever I say it…I want to start singing, “She Loves You”. 🙂


  8. Another great post (as usual, Vivian). I’m taking my girls aged 9,6 and 5 to Washington D.C for a long weekend in November. Between that and a trip to the Constitution Center in Philly, they are getting lots of history time this year! I think this book will be an excellent addition to our US History themed reading pile for fall! We also love Thomas Jefferson’s Feast by Frank Murphy.


    • Oh, what fun, Katey! Glad you enjoyed the post….and have a great time with your girls in DC. I’ll never forget my first trip there…my husband and I were still dating and lived in NYC. Back in the day (1965), you did NOT go anywhere overnight with a boyfriend, so, even though we were both in college, and the trip to DC was a six hour drive, we had to go and come home in the same day. Left at 3am and were home by midnight. Being vain and foolish, I wore a lovely outfit, complete with high heels. We parked the car somewhere for the day and walked ALL DAY. By late afternoon I was hobbling…so I removed the offending shoes and walked the pavements of downtown DC with stockinged feet. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  9. how could I have missed this book? definitely looking for it in our library catalog. Today. before I forget.


  10. You know if Lane Smith is involved there’s going to be humor 🙂 I STILL have not read this book, but I will… one of these days! It looks terrific. Thanks for sharing it, Vivian, and for the great activities! 🙂


  11. Funny and punny! You hooked me!


  12. Amen to finding time to read with your kids!!! This books sure looks like a grand way to learn some history!!!! That Mr Smith is really funny! Thanks for sharing!


  13. Definitely sounds FUN! Will have to pick it up when I need a giggle 🙂 Thanks for sharing, Vivian!


  14. Stacy S. Jensen

    I learned about this one at the WOW retreat and it is a hoot for parents and kids. Glad you added it to the list.


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