________________ CM . . . . Volume VII Number 14 . . . . March 16, 2001

cover Franklin in the Dark. (My First Franklin Book).

Bonnie Bader (Text Adapter). Originally written by Paulette Bourgeois. Illustrated by Brenda Clark.
Toronto, ON: Kids Can Press, 2000.
12 pp., board, $7.95.
ISBN 1-55074-898-X.

Subject Headings:
Fear of the dark-Juvenile fiction.
Fear-Juvenile fiction.

Preschool / Ages 1 - 4.

Review by Dave Jenkinson.

** /4


Every night Franklin's mother would shine a flashlight into his shell and say, "See, there's nothing to be afraid of."

But Franklin was sure that monsters lived inside his small, dark shell.

image 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.

"See," she would say, "there's nothing to be afraid of."

She always said that. She wasn't afraid of anything. But Franklin was sure that creepy things, slippery things, and monsters lived inside his small, dark 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.

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

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The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364