John, Paul, George, Ben, and Betsy

We're home!  It was a quick trip.  We stayed at the Inn at Penn (thank you, Penn).  On Saturday, the kids and I took the trolley to the Franklin Institute and spent the afternoon there (meanwhile, Axel's talk was going very well).  On Sunday, we hit the highlights of the historic area:  Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell, and the Betsy Ross House.  I know these are the highlights because they're the most likely to appear on a postcard.  We even found one with all three pictured on it.  We bought it.


We may also have to buy this book:  John, Paul, George and Ben by Lane Smith (Hyperion, 2006).  It was by far Leo and Milly's favorite.  I had some reservations about reading it to Leo when it first came out (Smith "takes some liberties" with the historical record, and I thought it might confuse him), but I needn't have worried:  kids are always smarter than we think (and Smith sets the record straight in the end).  Leo thought the anecdotes about the "lads" (especially Paul Revere yelling about extra-large underwear) were uproariously funny.  More to the point, he remembered the trait each founding father was known for (Paul was noisy) and how it helped him serve the revolutionary cause.  I hope he got the message about working together, too, since it was the combined efforts of these men that led to the signing of the Declaration of Independence.  I know he didn't get the Beatles references ("Say, you want a revolution?"), but that's all right.  His mom did.

As you might imagine, I've had the opportunity to read John, Paul, George and Ben multiple times recently.  For all the off-the-wall humor, it's a carefully crafted book (it was expertly designed by Molly Leach) that rewards rereading.  My favorite detail:  the miniature portraits of young John et al., rendered in oils and modeled after their grown up-portraits by Copley, Stuart, and Wright.