Posted in Fiction, Fiction, Humor, Intermediate, Middle Grade, Middle School

Pen Pals across time? Benjamin Franklin: Huge Pain in My…

ben franklinBenjamin Franklin: Huge Pain in My…, by Adam Mansbach & Alan Zweibel (Sept. 2015, Hyperion), $12.99, ISBN: 9781484713044

Recommended for ages 8-12

Thirteen year-old Franklin Isaac Saturday (call him Ike) has a really obnoxious writing assignment. He has to write a letter to a person from history, so he chooses Benjamin Franklin, his namesake. He rants and raves about the dumb assignment, the struggle of being in middle school, his jerk of a stepfather, and his crush on classmate Claire Wanzandae. He inadvertently sticks the letter in a mailbox as part of a joke, but here’s the surprise: he gets a response back. From Ben Franklin, who’s got stuff of his own to complain about! He hates his hair, Thomas Jefferson gets on his nerves, and he’s sensitive about his weight. Will these pen pals out of time somehow help one another through their rough patches, or will they cause the entire timestream to become out of whack?

Written in the first person through Ike’s eyes and through letters between Ike and Ben Franklin, this is a good middle grade read, especially for those reluctant readers. It didn’t really grow on me like I thought it would – the thought of Ben Franklin being that concerned about his stringy hair and feelings of not measuring up didn’t work for me – but I think middle graders will get a kick out of this one. The writing is conversational and witty, with plenty of snark and sarcasm. The time travel aspect of the story is a little far-fetched, but go with it.

This is a good addition to collections (both home and library) that cater to kids who are a hard sell for reading. Humor is always a good thing to have on your shelves, especially for those kids who don’t want to read, but need a book for school. I tend to fall back on humor and adventure for these kids, so this will be a helpful one to have on hand.



I'm a mom, a children's librarian, bibliophile, and obsessive knitter. I'm a pop culture junkie and a proud nerd, and favorite reads usually fall into Sci-Fi/Fantasy. I review comics and graphic novels at WhatchaReading ( I'm also the co-founder of On Wednesdays We Wear Capes (, where I discuss pop culture and geek fandom from a female point of view.

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