CM . . .
. Volume XIX Number 38. . . .May 31, 2013
Based on the popular series of books and the animated videos, Franklin and the Gecko Games features Franklin the turtle and his friends in the Nature Nuts club. As summer vacation approaches, Mr. Owl is looking for someone to take care of Gordon the lizard. Both Franklin and Beaver volunteer for the job. Bear, Goose, Rabbit, Fox and Snail vote for the best gecko-sitter, but the vote is a tie. To settle the tie, Goose creates a series of challenges for Franklin and Beaver. The first challenge is a grasshopper-catching contest, which Franklin wins. Next, Goose asks them a series of trivia questions about geckos. Beaver wins this one, forcing a third challenge. Snail dresses up as a gecko and hides. Beaver practically sits on Snail who is hiding in a tire swing. Snail falls out, and Franklin is the first to pick up Snail, declaring, "I win!" Franklin's victory is bittersweet because he senses Beaver's disappointment. Remembering that he already has a pet fish at home, Franklin generously offers the job to Beaver who has no pets. Beaver accepts and vows to be "the best gecko-sitter ever."
Fans of the popular TV show Franklin and Friends will appreciate this new addition to the Franklin series published by Kids Can Press. The story appeals to both boys and girls, especially those who love animals. The text seamlessly blends scientific facts about geckos into the narrative. For example, Mr. Owl explains that the gecko is an insectivore, and Beaver knows that the small hairs on a gecko's feet are called setae.
Friendship is an ongoing theme in the Franklin series. This story also deals with the theme of fairness and empathy as Franklin considers how Beaver feels and eventually decides that it is fair for Beaver to have a pet for a while. The end of the story provides an excellent opportunity to discuss Franklin's choice and the reasons for his decision.
The colourful illustrations cover more than half of each page and offer visual support for beginning readers. One close-up picture of the gecko towards the beginning of the book gives readers a realistic picture of what a gecko looks like.
This successful Canadian series continues to expand with more stories that have interesting problems and strong themes. Often books based on TV shows lose something in the transition from screen to print, but this is not the case with Franklin and the Gecko Games.
Claire Perrin is an elementary teacher with the Toronto District School Board.
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