________________ CM . . . . Volume I Number XI . . . . August 25, 1995

Franklin Goes to School

Paulette Bourgeois. Illustrated by Brenda Clark.
Toronto: Kids Can Press, 1995. 32pp, paper, $4.95.
ISBN 1-55074-276-0 (cloth: $12.95, ISBN 1-55074-268-X)

Subject Headings:
First day of school-Fiction.

Preschool - grade 1 / Ages 3 - 6.
Review by A. Edwardsson.


Franklin could count by twos and tie his shoes. He could zip zippers and button buttons. But Franklin was worried about starting school. And that was a problem because Franklin was going to school for the very first time.

Paulette Bourgeois (author of Big Sarah's Little Boots and Too Many Chickens) tackles another issue of concern to preschoolers in this latest addition to the popular series featuring Franklin, a young turtle.

Franklin is excited about the idea of school. He gets up early, packs his pencil case with freshly sharpened coloured pencils, then wakes his parents. But as departure time draws near, he's not able to eat much because his tummy is "full of jumping frogs." Halfway to the bus stop he clutches his stomach and decides he doesn't want to go to school. But as always, his parents are there to offer encouragement and reassurance.

Franklin's tummy also bothers him when his friends at the bus stop boast that they can already read and write. When the bus arrives the others climb aboard, but Franklin grabs his parents and "kept hugging even after his friends had found seats." Attentive readers will pick up on the signs that Franklin's friends are also nervous: " `Do you think there's a bathroom at school?' asked Beaver, fidgeting in her seat."

Their new teacher, Mr. Owl, is waiting for their arrival, and soon everyone but Franklin is involved in an activity. The kindly teacher approaches Franklin and through a supportive conversation, boosts Franklin's self-esteem and re-kindles his excitement about school and learning. From then on, there's no stopping him. On the ride home, "he was so busy having fun that he almost forgot to get off at his stop."

The First-Day-of-School theme will appeal to youngsters fascinated with that early milestone, and Franklin's parents model behaviour that other parents might envy (though it's not really the norm these days to have both parents on hand to walk children to and from school or the bus stop).

Brenda Clark's cheerful illustrations capture Franklin's anxieties and the loving concern of his parents for their only child. Pictures on each page still allow room for a clear typeface. Young readers will enjoy touches like the ladybug on the stack of pancakes and the authentic fly pie.

There are two minor visual distractions. The rubber boots in the classroom scene obviously couldn't fit the paws/feet of any of the student animals shown. More confusingly, as the story begins, Franklin is pictured climbing onto the bus -- but the text of the next few pages has him waking and preparing for his first day and then heading for the bus stop.

But these are quibbles, and the story moves along nicely to a satisfying and reassuring conclusion. This book would be a valuable addition for preschools, daycares, kindergartens, and probably grade one classrooms.

Highly recommended.

A. Edwardsson is in charge of the Children's Department at a branch of the Winnipeg Public Library. She has a Bachelor of Education degree and a Child Care Worker III certification, and is a member of the Manitoba branch of the Canadian Authors' Association.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

Copyright © 1998 the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.

Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364