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John, Paul, George & Ben

4.21  ·  Rating details ·  3,587 ratings  ·  412 reviews
Here is the story of five little lads before they became five really big Founding Fathers, from New York Times bestselling creator and Caldecott Honor recipient Lane Smith
Once there were four lads . . .
John [Hancock],
Paul [Revere],
George [Washington],
and Ben [Franklin].

Oh yes, there was also Tom [Jefferson], but he was annoyingly independent and hardly ever around.
Hardcover, 40 pages
Published April 1st 2006 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (first published 2006)
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Average rating 4.21  · 
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 ·  3,587 ratings  ·  412 reviews

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This humorous book about our founding fathers is very funny, with informative tidbits and set up like they are sorta the Beatles. It tells of each person like they are a child and it shows their quirks as kids that eventually help them as adults be the great men they were. John Hancock signed his name on the chalk board bigger than anyone else which is why he was the first one to sign. Paul did ring bells as a child and this book posits he was hard of hearing and yelled all the time.

It’s cute a
Nov 16, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Michaele
The details are what make this book amazing.

When John Hancock writes his name on the blackboard, all the other signatures of his classmates (Sam, Hooper, Pinn, Oliver, Josiah, etc.) are not only names you would find on the declaration of independence, but each name is written in the correct handwriting for that name. Same goes for Thomas Jefferson's classmates' artwork - "Adam" is signed in the D.O.I. handwriting of John Adams, "Sherm" is Roger Sherman.

Thomas Jefferson ignores instructions to
DJ Harris
May 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone
Recommended to DJ by: Xander Harris

My son, Xander, bought this book at school and brought it home somewhat unexpectedly one day. He has always loved politics, and history, so I don't know why I was a bit surprised. Now we've started reading this book with my 4-yr.-old grandson, Gauge. He's still a little young to grasp the concepts, but their never to young to start planting the seeds of patriotism, freedom and liberty.


"Everyone except that big underwear lady. She was still mad."

That is Gauge's favorite part of the book.
Rod Brown
Aug 23, 2019 rated it liked it
It's clever to try to mash-up the Beatles with the Founding Fathers, but the author limited it to too few visual and written references. He could have leaned into that theme a little more. Regardless, the rest of the book was a humorous and witty presentation of history, with a little True/False fact check at the end to explain where the author took liberties. Very nice. ...more
Feb 20, 2019 added it
Third grade thought this was hilarious. :) It is pretty cute.
May 04, 2011 rated it it was amazing
“The Stinky Cheeseman,” “The True Story of the Three Little Pigs” and “Glasses, Who Needs 'Em?” These are all the books I have recently read that were illustrated (with one of them written by) Lane Smith. Well, I have recently read Lane Smith's recent book, “John, Paul, George and Ben” which details the lives of American history's greatest figures as children! “John, Paul, George and Ben” is clearly one historical satire that will definitely stand the test of time in the world of children's book ...more
The book John, Paul, George, & Ben is absolutely hilarious. This book gives a little “backstory” on what our Founding Fathers might have been like. This book is perfect for middle schoolers in that it is humorous, it involves important characters that they will have talked about in History class, and it can be used in several different ways in an English classroom.
I would use this book with a lesson on voice. John, Paul, George, & Ben is such a great example of the different ways in which voic
Mar 11, 2015 rated it really liked it
John, Paul, George & Ben by Lane Smith is a fantastic picture book to engage children in an introduction of the Founding Fathers. Within this book, Smith blends fables and facts to entertain readers in the biographies of John Hancock, Paul Revere, George Washington, and Benjamin Franklin (with special appearance from Thomas Jefferson). One of the best aspects of this book is Smith’s humorous approach in informing readers. For example, at the end of the book there is a true or false section in wh ...more
Feb 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Gr. 2-3
Is there anything cuter than a handful of America's Founding Fathers as big-headed children? I think not!

John, Paul, George, and Ben (that is, Hancock, Revere, Washington, and Franklin) is Lane Smith's period parody of the "five little lads" before they grew into their names. The attributes that have defined them through history, such as George's honesty and Ben's witty quotes for every occasion, were more hassle than help to them and others when they were children. My favorite origin connectio
Ch_beth Rice
Mar 07, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: info-bios
John, Paul, George, & Ben is a cleverly written book by Lane Smith about John Hancock, Paul Revere, George Washington, Ben Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson. Smith describes each man as a lad and a quality each possessed (bold, noisy, honest, clever, and independent) and how it was used when they were young. The author shows how each trait has an important and profound effect on our country’s history specifically before, during, and after the Revolutionary War. The cartoon illustrations add to the ...more
Kristi Marion
Feb 21, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This is a fun book to read in celebrating our founding fathers with your children and one of my kids' favorites. It is obvious from the title (Beatle reference) that the book is full of winks to parents. John Hancock writes his name on the board and his teacher replies, "We don't need to read it from space." Paul Revere shouts out a customer's order for extra large underwear. Most of all, I love hearing my children, ages 7 and 5, quote Ben Franklin from the book, in horrible British accents, "Fi ...more
Leigh Isley
Jun 30, 2012 rated it liked it
This is a picture book I picked up from the local library to do a shared presentation by reading it to some teenagers. I found this book hard to follow as it was read out-loud. You would have to know the history of all four men in order to understand and get a laugh from the words. This is the story of five little lads (Washington, Franklin, Hancock, Revere, and Jefferson) before they became five really big Founding Fathers. They are always getting into trouble whether it be at school or home. T ...more
Alyson (Kid Lit Frenzy)
Though this is based on true facts - this is the "tall-tale" version of those facts. Lane Smith adds his own brand of humor to the biographies of some of our founding fathers. ...more
Apr 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: top-20
This books is a comical version of historical fiction involving John Hancock, Paul Revere, George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson. This book would be getting students in learning the truth behind each of these men's stories. The illustrations are cartoon like. This could introduce a unit on the Sons of Liberty.

Katie Andrews Potter - Storybook Ancestor
I’ve always loved this book, so it became our kids’ first book of the year toward our family goal of 300 books in 2019. We’re all big Hamilton fans, so even my 5yo son could recognize George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. It’s a hilarious and clever, and piques kids’ interest in the American Revolution.
Feb 04, 2012 rated it it was ok
I realize this one is intended to be an informational book for younger audiences, but I found the stories focused on for each of the characters was weak. It didn't hold my kids' attention. I think lower elementary kids could handle more facts - which would strengthen the book. ...more
Mar 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
Naturally, a picture book full of Beatles references would catch my eye! But this book is actually about another group of influential lads...the founding fathers, and it's delightfully fun (plus, you may learn something!) ...more
Dec 10, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: kid-lit
Hilarious tounge-in-cheek history lesson.
Jun 25, 2010 rated it it was amazing
this book was hilariuos! It was an amazing childrens book. I loved how it told real information about 4 famous people and used comedy.
Nov 02, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: kid, history, fiction, courier, 2010
This book is awesome.
Oct 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This book is hilarious
Eileen W
Feb 20, 2016 rated it really liked it
My kids really like this amusing look at some of the fathers of our country. A fun read for kids and adults alike!
Sep 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
OK, with a title like this, how could a girl born in the 60’s, who loves American history, even hope to be able to resist?! Add to this the fact that I already enjoy this author/illustrator! I’m a pushover for witty text, and this book delivers! I mean, the title is clever enough, but then his dedication page states “I get by with a little help from my friends”. Tell me you don’t love that! I am happily adding this to my Gramma shelf, and can’t wait to read it with the grandkids! (And I may let ...more
Liz Staab
Jan 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
A children’s book about five incredibly important historical figures that not only shows the reader each figure’s significance but also makes the reader chuckle. What, exactly, is not to like??? Definitely going to have to mentally file this one under “books to read to my future children”.
Annie Risher
Apr 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I think this book is very interesting because famous people from a long time ago were children in the book, and it showed what they might have acted like as kids.
Jan 14, 2019 rated it it was ok
Cute, and not really in a good way.
Aug 24, 2019 rated it liked it
Fun and informative. The True/False "notes" at the end was the best part. ...more
Jun 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Can't believe I never rated this one. Read it years ago. Bought it too. And buying two more for friend's kids. ...more
Rebecca Light
Mar 20, 2019 added it
Shelves: rdng-350
John, Paul, George, and Ben (Plus another lad) are four lads that were all different from each other. Starting with John, we learn that he is very bold. John also has a lot of confidence and good penmanship. The next lad is Paul. Paul is a very noisy lad because he spent too much time in the bell tower and can't hear very well. It annoyed most people that he spoke so loudly, but after a while, people appreciated it when he warned them that the British were coming. The next lad, George, is very h ...more
Arisbet Figueroa
Nov 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book and it's not just because the drawings were amazing, but because I learned so much about our founding fathers. This book follows John, Paul, George, and Ben when they were little boys. Through the book, it shows the qualities that made them our nations founding fathers were not always qualities that were welcomed by their friends and family. At the end of the book there a whole page of fact checkers and it inform the reader what facts were true and which ones were false. This i ...more
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Smith was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, but moved to Corona, California at a young age. He spent summers in Tulsa, however, and cites experiences there as inspirations for his work, saying that "[o]nce you've seen a 100-foot cement buffalo on top of a donut-stand (sic) in the middle of nowhere, you're never the same."

He studied art in college at the encouragement of his high school art teacher, helping

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