CM . . . .
Volume VII Number 20 . . . . June 8, 2001
Franklin could climb trees and swing from branches.With Paulette Bourgeois' announcement that her twenty-ninth "Franklin" title will be the last that she will author, young readers/listeners who desire further installments of the little turtle's life will have to turn to the "Franklin TV Storybook" series, books which are based on episodes of the animated TV series, Franklin. In this case, the book's plot comes from an episode of the same name, one written by Brian Lasenby.
When Franklin learns that Mr. Heron is giving away trees, he is elated and digs a big hole for his tree just outside his bedroom window while imagining the fun of inviting his friends over to build a tree house and to swing on a tire he will hang from one of his tree's limbs. Having anticipated receiving a full grown tree, Franklin is most disappointed when Mr. Heron gives him a small sugar maple sapling. After Franklin arrives home and fills in most of the large hole he had dug, he discovers that his wagon is empty, the sapling having fallen out. Initially, Franklin does not care for "it wasn't big enough to play in," but his father gently reminds him, "Big or little, you promised to care for it." With that mild admonition spurring him on, Franklin goes in search of the lost sapling and encounters, one by one, three of his friends who have not only planted their trees but have taken steps to ensure their long term growth. Finally Franklin discovers that Mr. Heron has his sapling for "someone had found it on the path." Before Franklin leaves, Mr. Heron shows him a picture in which Mr. Heron is a boy "planting my first tree" and that tree is now the children's tree house tree. Seeing what his sapling could become, a happy Franklin returns home to plant his own future tree house tree.
Because concepts involving the passage of time are difficult for the very young whose idea of "a long time" is waiting until tomorrow, Franklin Plants a Tree may speak more directly to the adult reader than the juvenile listener. Leaders in the Beaver section of Scouts Canada might wish to share this book with their young charges as a way of explaining the organization's Scoutrees program and demonstrating how the seedlings they plant today will have become a forest when they are adults.
Dave Jenkinson teaches courses in children's and YA literature in the Faculty of Education, the University of Manitoba.
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