Book Review: A Birthday for Frances

Rating: ★★★★★

Frances’ sister Gloria is having a birthday party, and as the preparations commence Frances begins to deal with feelings of jealousy over the attention Gloria is receiving.  When she realizes everyone is giving Gloria a present but her, she begins to cry, then lights upon the idea of buying Gloria a Chompo bar and some gumballs with an advance on her allowance.  But on the way home she “accidentally” eats the gumballs, and Father takes the Chompo bar for safekeeping.  As the time for the party grows nearer, Frances dithers about whether or not to give up the gift, until Gloria announces that her birthday wish is to be on good terms with Frances.  Affection wins out, and Frances joyfully presents her gift to Gloria.

Hoban writes this story with incisive characterization of how young children think, with several delightful moments in which children (and their parents) may recognize themselves.  Especially charming is Frances’ practice of “spelling” words in the manner of grownups (q-p-m for “ice cream”), which will appeal to early readers who know that words are actually spelled systematicallly.  Frances’ struggle with selfishness is genuine enough to avoid a preachy, moralistic message, and the entire story takes place in the context of a secure family environment, with wise and loving parents.  An outstanding story.

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Publication Information: Hoban, Russell. Birthday for Frances, A. Hoban, Lillian (Illustrator). Frances; Harper & Row. 1968. ISBN: 0064430073.
Categories: 5 Stars, Age 04-08, Amblesideonline, Book Tree, Books Children Love
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Posted on November 20, 2009


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