All About My Favorite Badger, Frances!

Since her first appearance 59 years ago in Bedtime for Frances, Frances has charmed both young and old with her wise antics and gentle songs.

Earlier this month I wrote about Frances, author Russell Hoban’s enduring creation for children. Since her first appearance 59 years ago in Bedtime for Frances, Frances has charmed both young and old with her wise antics and gentle songs. I am no exception: I love this little badger. She’s irrepressible, intelligent, and self-possessed. I have enjoyed reading her stories, and hope that you enjoy sharing them with the children in your life.

The trials and tribulations of how an older child adjusts to life with a new sibling are sweetly rendered in A Baby Sister for Frances. With the arrival of baby Gloria, Frances feels slighted that not everything goes her way: her blue dress is not ready to wear to school, and there are no raisins for her oatmeal. What will she do? Frances decides to run away after that dinner that evening. After packing her alligator doll, a box of prunes, and “five chocolate sandwich cookies,” Frances absconds underneath the dining room table (which is near the kitchen if she runs out of cookies). Meanwhile, her parents lament how “lonesome and empty” the house is without her. They mention in particular the little songs Frances sings, and sing some of their favorites. At no time do they pressure Frances to get over her feelings of being overlooked, nor do they pressure her to come out from under the dining room table.

The depiction of Frances’ parents is one of my favorite things about these books. Mother and Father are patient and gentle with their spirited daughter, and accept her foibles and moods. I think they are wonderful role models for parenting. In A Birthday for Frances, the occasion of her little sister’s birthday puts Frances into a bit of jealous mood. Not once do Frances’ parents tell her that she is being silly, even when she brings up the fact that Gloria hid her sand pail and shovel (the year before, by the way). They give Frances the time she needs to come around to fully celebrating her sister’s birthday, even if it means finally giving Gloria the Chompo bar (a delicious-sounding candy bar with nougat, caramel, chocolate, and nuts) she had bought as a birthday gift, yet coveted for her own.

Be sure to check out other Frances titles at the Library. Children at all stages of development and growth will find something about Frances with which to identify. As a friend of mine says, "the Frances books hold up," even almost 60 years later.

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