________________ CM . . . . Volume XVII Number 15. . . .December 10, 2010


Filthy Franny and the 4 Faery Fleas.

M. W. Penn. Illustrated by Mike Linton.
Vancouver, BC: Gumboot Books, 2009.
36 pp., stapled, $11.99.
ISBN 978-0-9784351-6-5.

Grades 1-3 / Ages 6-8.

Review by Aileen Wortley.

*** /4



Filthy Franny had no friends:
no children would come near her.
She had to yell quite loudly
to have other children hear her
across the open spaces
that they had to keep between
themselves and filthy Franny
if they wanted to stay clean


The land of 1 is lots of fun. I think you would adore it 'cause as the counting numbers go-well nothing comes before it. 1 Land has 1 of everything: 1 star, 1 moon, 1 sun. And nothing there can multiply, because there's only 1.


Tomboy Franny swings from trees, loves lizards and mud but will not take a bath. Ostracized by friends, she dreams of faery godmothers to whisk her to places new. No self-respecting faery godmother would befriend grubby Franny, but four faery fleas insist they can fulfill the same role. They describe a series of wonderful lands, each introducing the characteristics of base numbers one to nine. None prove suitable, and finally chief faery, Flo, suggests the Land of Zero where Franny would not need to meet people or take showers. However, a disgusted Franny, tired of fleas and mathematics, leaves to have a bath, while the faeries, proud of their manipulation, give themselves a high five!

     Penn has integrated story, energetic alliterative poetry and mathematics to introduce young children to the concept of basic math awareness. She writes for Highlights for Children magazine and has received various awards and other forms of acclaim in the United States from professionals in the education field regarding her previous titles.

internal art     The fast paced story is humorous and inventive, and children will enjoy Fran's dilemma while absorbing the cleverly presented mathematical information about digits and their properties. In a light-hearted manner, the creative, rhyming story brings a fresh approach to introducing children to the idiosyncrasies of numbers.

      The text is complemented by the quirky, offbeat, cartoon style illustrations of Mike Linton, a Vancouver artist who works primarily as a computer animator. The pictures are full of sly and intriguing details that competently represent the numerical characteristics as well as the twists and turns of the story.

      Most picture books introducing the concept of numbers 0-9 are aimed at preschoolers. This book, however, provides more complex additional information, and the story is more sophisticated. It is ideal for use in a class or school setting for children in grades 1-3 and even slightly older in some circumstances. It would also find an audience in public libraries as an extra purchase.


Aileen Wortley is a retired librarian who lives in Toronto, ON.

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

Copyright 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
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.