CM . . . .
Volume VII Number 14 . . . . March 16, 2001
Every night Franklin's mother would shine a flashlight into his shell and say, "See, there's nothing to be afraid of."When you reduce a 28 page book by more than fifty percent, something has to be lost. Bourgeois' original text for this same page read:
Every night, Franklin's mother would take a flashlight and shine it into his shell.In this example, while 50 words have been reduced to just 32, there has been more than just the loss of words and details for the adapter has omitted a most important story element: Franklin's misconception that his mother, an adult, is fearless. Much later, when Franklin returns from his quest to find something or someone to help him overcome his fear of the dark, the adapter does retain the lines, "'You were afraid? I didn't know mothers were ever afraid,' said Franklin." However, without the earlier statement regarding Franklin's misreading of his mother, this line now lacks the full impact it should have. Franklin originally started his search for help because he did not think that anyone in his home could empathize with his feelings of fear.
Much of the storytelling rhythm of the original work is also lost as Bader has essentially utilized straight exposition rather than incorporating Bourgeois' generous use of dialogue. Clarke's illustrations have been retained, and they have fared somewhat better than Bourgeois' text, only being cropped to fit the new format and reduced in number.
I found making a recommendation about this book to be most difficult. On the one hand, given the many weak board books that are on the market, exposing young children to Franklin is better than foisting inferior board books on them. However, my fear is that parents, having "done" Franklin in the Dark, will not return to the original work when their children are old enough to enjoy it. And even if parents do purchase or borrow the full version later, I fear that some children will reject it, thinking that they already "know" the story.
Recommended with Reservations.
Dave Jenkinson teaches children's and adolescent literature courses in the Faculty of Education at the University of Manitoba.
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