CM Archive
CM Archive Book Review line

Maryann Kovalski.
Toronto, ON: Kids Can Press, 1990.
32pp., cloth, $13.95.
ISBN 0-921103-9W. CIP.

Subject Headings:
Restaurants, Lunch Rooms, Etc.-Fiction.

Kindergarten-grade 2 / Ages 5-7

Reviewed by Theo Hersh.

Volume 19 Number 1
1991 January

Based technically on "The Fisherman's Wife," Frank and Zelda is an exquisitely rendered story about reckless wishing.

Frank and Zelda own a small pizza shop. They lose their customers when the factory next to them closes down. One day a man comes into the restaurant to eat. He has no money but repays them in wishes. Frank wishes for a thousand paying customers "every day and forever."

The wish is granted but Frank and Zelda cannot handle all the customers. Zelda wishes for help. With the arrival of hundreds of waiters, the restaurant is too small, so they wish for a larger place. Everything then gets out of hand. Frank and Zelda wish they had never had their wishes. In an instant all is quiet.

Kovalski has effectively set the story in the 1920s. It is "once-upon-a-time" to young readers but inconographically it triggers images of pre-war films. This is a simple tale told in a direct way without the sinister elements that give "The Fisherman's Wife" an ominous edge. It is humorous, and the moral - be happy with what you have - is satisfying. The soft, overflowing illustrations emphasize the story's humour. Frank is an Oliver Hardyish looking character and the waiters resemble all the waiters in all the madcap comedies of the Thirties.

Frank and Zelda is a happy story which will be enjoyed by young children.

Theo Hersh, Toronto Public Library, Toronto, ON.
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