Matt Tavares Books
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A Ben of All Trades
A Ben of All Trades
Written by Michael J. Rosen, illustrated by Matt Tavares

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A Ben of All
Trades, title page

A Ben of All
Trades, interior art

A rousing biography from Michael J. Rosen and Matt Tavares reveals how Benjamin Franklin's boyhood shaped his amazingly multifaceted life.

Young Benjamin Franklin wants to be a sailor, but his father won't hear of it. The other trades he tries ”candle maker, joiner, boot closer, turner” bore him through and through. Curious and inventive, Ben prefers to read, swim, fly his kite, and fly his kite while swimming. But each time he fails to find a profession, he takes some important bit of knowledge with him. That tendency is exactly what leads him to become the astonishingly versatile genius we remember today.

Inspired by The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, Michael J. Rosen's wry tale captures Ben's spirit in evocative yet playful language, while illustrations by Matt Tavares follow Ben from the workbench to the water in vivid detail. A love story to the value of variety, A Ben of All Trades sheds light on an unconventional path to greatness and humanizes a towering figure in American history.

"Tavares's illustrations bring the rich world of 18th-century dockside to life and include details such as the colonial style of dress (bonnets and tricorn hats), tall ships docked in Boston Harbor, and Union Jack flags rippling in the breeze...this book is an excellent resource for discussions of American colonial life in social studies classrooms and beyond. History lovers will relish this glimpse into the inquisitive childhood of Benjamin Franklin."
-School Library Journal

"Realistic, carefully executed watercolor-and-pencil illustrations in browns, grays, blues, and yellows effectively use light and varied perspectives to add drama to this formative period in Franklin's life. Scenes of Benjamin sampling tedious trades alternate with upbeat scenes of him swimming, playing to the story's theme. Text panels from antique books surrounded by Colonial-era nautical maps reflect Franklin's interest in books and the sea, reinforcing the authentic period setting."
-Kirkus Reviews

"Tavares creates light-infused, multitextured digital illustrations that depict Franklin's spirited escapades in colonial Boston and more somber scenes of Franklin trying, and discarding, apprenticeships."
-Publishers Weekly

"Inspired by Franklin's memoirs, Rosen recreates young Ben's path to finding a suitable trade in this picture-book biography...Tavares's photo-realistic illustrations offer charm and fine details to this blend of history and technology."


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A BEN OF ALL TRADES. Illustrations copyright 2020 Matt Tavares. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Inc., Somerville, MA.