Ah, the first of the wonderful Frances series. Yes folks, this was the first of what is now a very well known, often read and beloved series about the adventures and misadventures of a little girl...oops, I mean badger! Frances has sort of become a classic for the wee ones.
Now you will note my five stars rating on this work. Please, before you start mindlessly hammering the negative vote button like someone apparently has done to each and every positive review of this one, read on for a bit. If you disagree with the review be so kind as to leave comments as to the reason why...that is what these reviews are for; first to inform, second so we can all discuss and learn from each other.
This is most certainly one of those books that allow the parent, grandparent or other adult responsible for a child to earn their keep. There are most certainly aspects of this book that are bound to offend some readers in this day and age and those making reading selections for their child should most certainly be aware of those issues before they make that decision as to weather or not to read this work to their charge.
This is the story of a very human like little badger girl who is fighting the good fight as to going to sleep as she should, something not at all uncommon with children. She uses many ploys such as request for milk, more kisses before sleep time and such, and then after she actually gets into bed her overly active imagination (another common trait among kids...thank goodness) takes over keeping her awake even longer. Eventually exhaustion from her silly antics our little badger girl drifts off into sleep.
Note that the book plays, through use of words and rhythm to lull a child. They play on language, along with the art work, are the strongest aspects of this book and are worth noting. It starts with a crisp staccato rhythm which has a rather hypnotic in nature and sound sort of like a beginning reader. The language, the rhythm then changes in to longer soothing sentences as Frances's imagination gets the better of her when she is alone. There are of course if first rate and grabs the attention of not only the adult reader but also that of the child.
That is what the book is about. Now for the controversial issues:
First of course is the spanking issue. While no spanking is administered in the book, it is certainly threatened and certainly implied and is certainly one of the fears Frances faces. Some people believe in and do indeed spank their children and some people are extremely anti-spanking. Now I received my share of spankings as a kid and it did not damage me as far as I can tell. Neither my wife nor I were into spanking our own children when they were growing up and we most certainly were not into spanking our grandsons. They all seemed to grow up fine. I do think there is a difference in spanking, corporal punishment and child abuse and the three should not be confused...it is far too important an issue.
As to the objection that the book shows daddy badger smoking a pipe, and both mom and dad actually watching T.V., well, I hardly know what to say. I suppose if a parent feels that strongly about either issue, i.e. pipe smoking or T.V., then they certainly have that right to do so. Who am I to cast stones? I personally think that this objection is just a bit silly and hysterical...but then again, who am I to judge others? I know I am a pipe smoker...my wife will not allow it to be smoked in the house and I am banished to the back porch and woods behind the barn, but as I hate T.V. with a passion and watch very little of it, I suppose I would have some redeeming qualities to these folks.
As to the objection that our little badger girl imagines scary things like spiders, tigers and bears in her room and that the book will "give my kid tips on how to avoid bedtime, ergo increasing the hassle he or she gives me," is again, almost out there on the fringe. If a kid does not imagine scary things that go bump in the night, then he or she is a very rare sort of human being I should think. A kid that does not fight going to bed at a certain time each night is also a rare little critter too. Hey, these are all a part of growing up. I really don't know what to say about this objection.
All in all I feel this is a good children's book and did not hesitate one bit in reading it to our children and grandchildren. There again I will say that I took the time to review this book (as I have and do all such books) before I read them to the little ones and made an adult decision after due consideration.