An Inconvenient Alphabet: Ben Franklin & Noah Webster's Spelling Revolution

An Inconvenient Alphabet: Ben Franklin & Noah Webster's Spelling Revolution


$16.19 $17.99 Save 10% Current price is $16.19, Original price is $17.99. You Save 10%.
View All Available Formats & Editions
Choose Expedited Shipping at checkout for guaranteed delivery by Wednesday, October 23


“Delightful, relatable, and eye-catchingly illustrated.” —School Library Journal
Deelytful and iloominaating for noo and seesuned reeders alyk.” —Kirkus Reviews
“Thought-provoking and entertaining.” —School Library Connection
“Engaging...A comprehensible, lively read.” —Publishers Weekly

Do you ever wish English was eez-ee-yer to spell? Ben Franklin and Noah Webster did! Debut author Beth Anderson and the New York Times bestselling illustrator of I Dissent, Elizabeth Baddeley, tell the story of two patriots and their attempt to revolutionize the English alphabet.

Once upon a revolutionary time, two great American patriots tried to make life easier. They knew how hard it was to spell words in English. They knew that sounds didn’t match letters. They knew that the problem was an inconvenient English alphabet.

In 1786, Ben Franklin, at age eighty, and Noah Webster, twenty-eight, teamed up. Their goal? Make English easier to read and write. But even for great thinkers, what seems easy can turn out to be hard.

Children today will be delighted to learn that when they “sound out” words, they are doing eg-zakt-lee what Ben and Noah wanted.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781534405554
Publisher: Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books
Publication date: 09/25/2018
Pages: 48
Sales rank: 426,182
Product dimensions: 9.10(w) x 11.00(h) x 0.50(d)
Age Range: 4 - 8 Years

About the Author

Beth Anderson, a former English as a Second Language teacher, thinks her students would have appreciated Ben and Noah’s big idea. An Inconvenient Alphabet is her first book. Born and raised in Illinois, she now lives in Colorado. You can visit her at

Elizabeth Baddeley is the illustrator of the critically acclaimed and New York Times bestselling I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsberg Makes Her Mark, written by Debbie Levy. She also illustrated A Woman in the House (and Senate): How Women Came to the United States Congress, Broke Down Barriers, and Changed the Country; The Good Fight: The Feuds of the Founding Fathers (and How They Shaped the Nation); and An Inconvenient Alphabet. Elizabeth graduated from the School of Visual Arts in New York City with a degree in illustration and currently lives in Kansas City, Missouri. Learn more at

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See All Customer Reviews

An Inconvenient Alphabet: Ben Franklin & Noah Webster's Spelling Revolution 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
NVCrittenden 9 months ago
How fascinating to learn about all the difficulties Noah Webster and Ben Franklin had to overcome while attempting to make English easier to write and read in America. I will never look at a dictionary the same way again! Thank you, Ben and Noah!
TeresaR More than 1 year ago
There is no such thing as boring history in author Beth Anderson’s hands. She recounts the story of how our spelling underwent changes through the centuries since the establishment of America as a country. Fast-paced and entertaining, this book teaches you history without your realizing it. Elizabeth Baddeley’s colorful illustrations, somehow managing to convey old-fashioned times and yet with modern sensibility add to the fun!
Dorothia Rohner More than 1 year ago
This is an entertaining, educational book with charming illustrations that teaches about the alphabet, spelling and how the first dictionary came to be. It lays out the narrative of Noah Webster and Benjamin Franklin and the unfamiliar story of how the two worked to standardize the American Alphabet and how to spell words. After trying out many ideas both separately and together, they never gave up trying to change peoples minds on how to spell. The illustrations make this book entertaining and fun to read and I learned so much through the content. A fabulous book for anyone who likes history and reading.
McMarshall More than 1 year ago
It is a wonderful book for history buffs, anyone struggling to master the English language, and as a reminder for everyone to stay persistent, yet flexible. I admire Beth and Elizabeth's tackling of such a complex subject matter and making it relatable to children. Ben Franklin's frustration with the mismatch between the sounds and the spellings of words is palatable. And Noah's persistence in trying to make English and its spelling easier results in many interesting ideas and something still used today. The amazing cover image of Ben and Noah navigating a sea of letters, with their pets helping to paddle, sets readers up for Elizabeth's extra fun addition of Webster's frisky dog and Ben's adorable cat, and their antics with the letters throughout the book. Be sure to examine the illustrations for additional little nuggets. The back matter contains wonderful historical, research, and process notes from both the author and the illustrator. A definite nonfiction jewel.
AKell More than 1 year ago
This thoughtful, well-researched story sheds light on Benjamin Franklin and Noah Webster's friendship and their tiresome struggle to unite a nation through a convenient alphabet. These two men persist time and time again revising, adapting and learning from their mistakes despite the Nation not accepting a new alphabet. Great illustrations, historical references, and humor tell an entertaining story.
JessicaOliveros More than 1 year ago
This book offers a new and entertaining look at the alphabet. Throughout the story, Anderson places words as they exist now alongside their alternative (more convenient) spelling such as "chair" and "chare." This play on words adds to the already interesting narrative of Noah Webster and Ben Franklin's attempts to reform the alphabet. I like the physical rendering of the alphabet, giving the letters a substantive form which characters carry and rearrange and talk about, making this concept easier for children to understand. I think the biggest take away for kids, though, is that throughout Noah Webster's attempts (as he carried on the work after Franklin passed away), he never gave up. He'd build on what he learned from his mistakes and try something new. Illustrations perfectly suit the story. Kids, teachers, librarians, and parents will all love this book.