Tuesday, February 18, 2014

PB 14:14 Day 5: THEME with "Being Frank"

I love, love, love this book! Today's element is THEME, Story Element #5.

TitleBeing Frank
Author: Donna W. Earnhardt
Illustrator: Andrea Castellani
Publisher: Flashlight Press
Year: 2012
Words: about 1000 (Not listed on the Renaissance Learning site)

I bought this book at my local chapter's SCBWI conference one year. So I got to meet the author too! I read the book in the bookstore and just HAD to have it! It is so cute, funny, and clever. Yes it has a message, but it is done so well. My children LOVE Frank.

So, how to feature theme? Theme in a book is the takeaway message. There's ALWAYS a takeaway message. But this book is CLEAR what it is. Maybe the best way to share is to summarize the story for you - the long version.

Frank had to LEARN the hard way HOW to be honest. Oh, he's always honest, for sure, but he's so frank that sometimes people don't like him. He never lies to his classmates, but he's so honest he hurts their feelings. He tells his teacher she has bad breath, points out the principles toupe, and talks about his mom's wrinkles when she glares at him. Even told the police officer she was speeding. Everyone tells him how they feel.
"You don't have to say everything you're thinking." said Ms. Zaroma, popping a mint in her mouth....
Everyone was upset, and now Frank wasn't so happy either.
He tried doing some of his favorite things to help him feel better, but nothing worked. So he went to visit Grandpa Ernest. Frank doubts whether or not honesty is the best policy anymore. But Grandpa assures him it still is. He tells the neighbor he likes the purple flower best on her new hat, even though he thought it looked like a flower store on top her head. He tells his best friend that his new relish needs more sugar and less pepper, not that it stinks and is way too spicy and that nobody would ever eat it, not even a dog.
Mr. Pickles grinned and shook Granpa's hand. "Back to the drawing board! Thanks for your help!"
"Grandpa, he didn't get mad at you!"
"That's right." Grandpa drank some water. "He asked me for the truth - and I gave it to him."
Frank sighed. "So I shouldn't give the truth unless someone asks for it?"
"You should always give people the truth," Grandpa said. "You just have to find the right way to serve it."
The next day, Frank put it into practice and tried to focus on the good things about people, even if it seemed mostly bad to him. By evening, he had made amends with everyone. But don't think the story ends there. There is SO another layer to this story, with Grandpa, the neighbor, and the best friend. And the layer is wonderfully portrayed through the illustrations. SO FUNNY!!!

The point is that theme shouldn't hit you over the head and be boring and didactic. It should be fun. This one is. It should be clever. This one is. It should be different. This one is. The theme of being honest in this book isn't just about the fact that you should be honest, but about just how honest you should be.

See you later! You can still read the other blog entries below. Be sure and visit today's blogs too!
Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4


  1. Christie, please delete my "I and You..." linky above...that was supposed to be yesterdays. I will post todays linky later today. Thanks. Also loved this review and had heard of the book before but haven't had it in my hands.

  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    1. ...and please delete my 'duplicate' comment! I am fumble-fingers today...

  3. What a great idea for a story. It's funny how we always stress honesty with kids, and then regret it when they end up speaking whatever comes to mind. Will have to pick this one up and check it out.

  4. Thanks Christie, I was just researching theme last night.

  5. Thank you, Christie! I am really enjoying your blog and all the books you're dissecting. And then I saw Being Frank - you made my day! :) I am learning from all the books. I've got to find Baby Penguins Everywhere! I need to cut down on words in many of my WIPs. And the word count in Being Frank is actually a little higher than it seems - around 1,000 words. I know, right? I am so glad it didn't seem that high when you read it! Flashlight Press is one of the few publishers who are okay with higher word counts.

    You are doing a great job. Looking forward to the next installment!

    1. Thanks, Donna! Glad you liked it and that you are enjoying the event so much. I anticipate next year there being more participants, don't you? I'm already looking forward to September! Still need to MAIL MY MS FOR THE CONTEST!!!


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