________________ CM . . . . Volume VII Number 16 . . . . April 13, 2001

A Franklin TV Storybook Series.

32 pp., pbk. & cloth, $4.95 (pbk.), $10.95 (cl.).

Preschool - grade 2 / Ages 3 - 7.
Review by Dave Jenkinson.

** /4



Franklin Says Sorry.

Based on the characters created by Paulette Bourgeois and Brenda Clark. TV tie-in adaption written by Sharon Jennings.
Toronto, ON: Kids Can Press, 1999.
ISBN 1-55074-714-2 (pbk.), ISBN 1-55074-712-6 (cl.).


Franklin and the Hero.

Based on the characters created by Paulette Bourgeois and Brenda Clark. TV tie-in adaption written by Sharon Jennings and illustrated by Sean Jeffrey, Mark Koren, Jelena Sisic and Shelley Southern.
Toronto, ON: Kids Can Press, 1999.
ISBN 1-55074-828-9 (pbk.). ISBN 1-55074-827-0 (cl.).


Franklin and the Baby.

Based on the characters created by Paulette Bourgeois and Brenda Clark. TV tie-in adaption written by Eva Moore.
Toronto, ON: Kids Can Press, 1999.
ISBN 1-55074-708-8 (pbk.). ISBN 1-55074-706-1 (cl.).


Franklin Helps Out.

Based on the characters created by Paulette Bourgeois and Brenda Clark. TV tie-in adaption written by Paulette Bourgeois and illustrated by Sean Jeffrey, Mark Koren and Jelena Sisic.
Toronto, ON: Kids Can Press, 2000.
ISBN 1-55074-7825-4 (pbk.). ISBN 1-55074-823-8 (cl.).

excerpt: (from Franklin and the Hero)

Franklin could count by twos and tie his shoes. He could say the alphabet without stopping, and he was learning how to read. His favourite books were about Dynaroo, the kangaroo superhero. Franklin wanted to be just like Dynaroo.

As the series title indicates, this quartet of books is based on episodes from the animated Franklin television series which accompanying promotional materials describes as "the number-one rated show among children ages 2-11 watching Canada's Family Channel....In the United States, where it airs on the U.S. premium preschool service, Nick Jr., the Franklin television series is now the second-highest rated show among children ages 2-5."

      Thinking children (and their parents) who have met the "original" Franklin and his friends in the Bourgeois/Clark books will quickly recognize that these adapted-from-TV books are but marginal stand-ins for the original Bourgeois/Clark collaborations. In particular, the TV books' illustrations are two-dimensional renderings of the rich characterizations of Franklin, his family, and friends that were created by Clark. Simply put, the characters look like generic cartoon animal figures rather than the three dimensional interpretations that Clark presented. Instead of Clark's richly textured fur or feather covered bodies, the TV books' characters are little more than line drawings flatly filled in with paint. Gone are Clark's emotion-evoking facial expressions. In their place are a limited number of stereotypic posturings. The richly detailed forest and other settings in which Clark's characters played and lived have been replaced by soft, diffusely rendered backgrounds over which the bold cartoon characters have been obviously dropped during the animation process.

      The TV books storylines fare somewhat better than the illustrations, however, for they treat the kind of themes that young listeners/readers of the original Franklin books have come to associate with this little turtle. In Franklin Says Sorry, Franklin betrays Bear by sharing the secret Bear has told him with Fox, who, in turn, shares it with someone else. While Franklin is obviously the lead "actor" in the TV series, he is not always necessarily front and centre. Such is the case in Franklin and the Baby where Bear is really the central character and Franklin plays a supporting role. Bear is waiting to become a "big brother," but, when his mother gives birth to Bear's baby sister, all the things Bear thought he would be called upon to do in his new role he cannot yet do because his sister is too little. Being too helpful is Franklin's problem in Franklin Helps Out which is based on the TV episode, Franklin's Nature Hike. Whenever Snail tries to do something on his own during the class nature hike, Franklin steps in and does it for him. Adapted from the TV episode of the same name, Franklin and the Hero finds Franklin and Snail playing superheroes where each becomes a variant of their favourite superhero, Dynaroo. When they learn that "Dynaroo will be autographing her new book at Mr. Heron's bookstore tomorrow morning," they plan to be there, but they become significantly delayed en route while helping Mrs. Muskrat who has locked herself out of her house. By the time the pair arrive at the bookstore, they have missed the signing, but they learn another meaning of the term "hero."

      As products that are two incarnations away from the original Franklin creations, the Franklin TV Storybooks are acceptable for what they are, opportunities to revisit in a more leisurely fashion episodes of a favourite television show. However, children who hear/read only these Franklin books and who do not get to experience the Bourgeois/Clark authored/illustrated titles will have been seriously shortchanged.

Recommended with Reservations.

Dave Jenkinson teaches courses in children's and adolescent literature in the Faculty of Education, the University of Manitoba.

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