I first discovered Lane Smith way back when I worked in the MCLS Children’s Consultants Office and had the enviable job of unpacking and checking in all the review copies that came in from publishing houses. The day I pulled out a copy of Eve Merriam’s Halloween ABC was the day I fell hard for Lane Smith. And then The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs came out, and Stinky Cheese Man and I was unconditionally hooked.
I’m not sure whether it’s the resemblance of his illustrations to the Fractured Fairy Tales of my Sunday Morning Cartoon Watching youth — way back around 1969 or 1970, the only cartoons on TV on Sunday morning were Fractured Fairy Tales and Bullwinkle, which I really despised — or the sublimely snarky prose that captivate me. I don’t really care, just so long as Smith keeps turning out books like John, Paul, George & Ben.
Now, I wasn’t sure about this one, mainly because I was just coming off Wise Guy, a picture book about Greek philosophy which really left me cold. I thought, what could Lane Smith have to say about the “wise guys” who founded our country that hasn’t been said before, and say it in a funny way? Weh-eh-ellll. My worry was needless. Smith blends historical fact — did you know Paul Revere was a bell ringer? — with some really funny fiction. The piece about Revere selling extra-large underwear is hiliarious and will undoubtedly have storytime kids in stitches.
All the big players in the Sons of Liberty are here — John Hancock, Paul Revere, George Washington, Ben Franklin, and Tom Jefferson. I especially like Jefferson’s profile, with it’s Roman nose and strong chin…sooooo much like Hercules in FFT.
The writing and illustrations blend beautifully, making this one another Lane Smith must-have for the library, and for my own collection.