CM . . . .
Volume VII Number 15 . . . . March 30, 2001
Preschool - grade 2 / Ages 3 - 7.
Franklin's Class Trip.
Franklin could count by two and tie his shoes. He had gone with his class to the bakery, the fire station and the pet store. Today Franklin's class was going to the museum. Franklin was so excited that he could hardly eat his breakfast.Franklin's enthusiasm about the class trip to the museum suddenly wanes, however, when Beaver reveals at the museum's entrance, "There are real dinosaurs inside." While Beaver knows he means just bones, Franklin interprets Beaver's words literally and is afraid that a ferocious, possibly turtle-eating dinosaur will be just around the next corner. For portions of the museum visit, Franklin loses himself in activities such as dressing up in armor in the medieval room or pretending to be an archaeologist. When it is finally time to visit the dinosaur exhibit though, Franklin tries to beg off, claiming he is tired. Mr. Owl insists Franklin continue, and he reluctantly and fearfully does so, only to be abruptly confronted by the toothed maw of a Tyrannosaurus. When Franklin discovers the exhibit holds only the real bones of once real dinosaurs, he relaxes and even shows his own ability to use language figuratively.
Like all of the Franklin books, the author(s) embed(s) young children's emotions in a familiar experience, thereby empowering them to acknowledge and perhaps deal with the emotions' existence.
Franklin's Baby Sister.
Franklin's parents had exciting news. They were going to have a baby in the spring.When Franklin learns that his mother is going to have a baby in the spring and he will acquire the title of "big brother," he cannot wait for that season to arrive. However, with the time frame of the very young, he expects spring and, therefore, the birth to occur momentarily and not at some distant future point. Again experiencing difficulties with others' figurative use of the English language, Franklin literally looks for spring "just around the next corner." Told that "April showers bring May flowers" and knowing that these two months are connected with spring, Franklin is ecstatic when his mother tells him that "they were having a shower that weekend." On Sunday, he puts on his rain gear only to encounter not raindrops but the shower of gifts for his yet unborn sibling. Finally the baby arrives, and Franklin gets to go the hospital where he successfully suggests a name for his new baby sister and "cradle[s] her gently in his arms."
Undoubtedly parents awaiting the arrival of their next child may want to share Franklin's experience with their own young and possibly equally impatient children.
Franklin Goes to the Hospital.
Franklin sometimes had colds and tummy aches, and every now and then he got cuts and bruises. He went to the doctor's for regular checkups, and once the doctor came to Franklin's house. But until now, Franklin had never been to the hospital.Well, that last statement is not absolutely true, for Franklin had been to the hospital when his sister, Harriet, was born. But perhaps I, like Franklin, am just being too literal, or it could be that the story's author is not intimately familiar with Bourgeois' corpus of "Franklin" books.
Franklin Goes to the Hospital is one of those books that cataloguing professors loved to put on final exams for its cover resembles the typical "Franklin" book, prominently identifying Paulette Bourgeois and Brenda Clark as the book's creators. From past experiences with their collaborations, one could conclude that Bourgeois is again the author and Clark the illustrator. However, the title page, the cataloger's "authority," immediately corrects such an inference by announcing that the "Story [is] based on characters created by Paulette Bourgeois and Brenda Clark" though it is illustrated by Brenda Clark. The copyright page muddies the illustration attribution by saying that "Interior illustrations [were] prepared with the assistance of Shelley Southern." The same page also adds "Story written by Sharon Jennings." CIP data assigned main entry under title.
While playing soccer, Franklin is hit in the chest with the ball, and that night he experiences pain while drying off following his bath. The next day his mother takes him to the doctor who concludes that Franklin's shell is cracked and that he will need to be operated on in hospital so that a pin can be inserted. While sharing the news of his impending operation with his friends, Franklin attempts to maintain a brave front, but inside he is quite afraid of the unknown awaiting him. Franklin's fearless facade crumbles when he is taken for x-rays because he thinks the x-rays will also reveal his fears. The doctor reassures Franklin, saying, "But just because you are afraid doesn't mean you aren't brave. Being brave mean doing what you have to do, no matter how scared you feel."
While the storyline gives young children "permission" to have fears about having to go into hospital, the detailed illustrations of the hospital and the accompanying text give parents and children much to talk about as the book follows the processes typically followed in admitting patients to hospital, settling them into their rooms and prepping them for surgery. A book best read and discussed well before life's events require a real hospital visit.
Dave Jenkinson teaches courses in children's and young adult literature in the Faculty of Education, the University of Manitoba.
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