February 3, 2004.
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, New York, 2003. 102
Available at Sembach Library (JF BEN).
I’m afraid my 9-year-old son and I are completely hooked on the Franny
K. Stein books. They don’t take very long at all to read, and
they’re simply delightfully silly. They appeal beautifully to a
grade school kid’s love of the disgusting without revolting the adults
who read it. There’s large type and lots and lots of cartoon
pictures, so it’s not at all threatening to beginning chapter book
readers, but an experienced reader like my son still enjoys it.
In this, the second episode, Franny’s frustrated that no one
understands her. She needs someone to share her breakthroughs
with inventions like a Biggerizer and a Manifester.
Franny’s mother loves her, so she tries to help. However, her
attempt at getting Franny a lab assistant is a dog who’s part
lab. She hopes that Franny can train him to be an assistant, but
seem to learn quickly.
At school, Franny tries to understand this thing called Valentine’s
Day. Between her attempts to follow her teacher’s explanation and
the mistaken helpfulness of her lab assistant, we do indeed end up with
a 50-ft. cupid on the attack.
Franny must save the day. Along the way, she learns a little
something about love and friendship.
Jim Benton does a fantastic job with this book. I like Franny’s
first attempts at Valentines, for example: “You’ve stolen my
heart, now give it back!” The picture is of a boy holding an
anatomically correct heart with skeleton coming after him.
The author plants at the beginning, where Franny is showing her
inventions to uninterested friends, exactly the tools Franny will need
to save the day. And poking fun at the whole Valentine’s Day idea
is something that at least my fourth grader thoroughly enjoys. I
suspect there are many others like him.
Review of other Franny K. Stein books:
Lunch Walks Among Us
The Invisible Fran
The Fran That Time Forgot
Copyright © 2005 Sondra Eklund. All
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