Skip to main content

The Frank Show by David Mackintosh

While I am thrilled that reports of the death of the picture book were greatly exaggerated, I have been wondering of late if there will ever be room for another William Steig or Bill Peet in this world?  Is there space on the shelf of the bookstores for this kind of book, a publisher willing to go with a picture book that does not feature a "character" sure to spawn a series and, above all else, an author and illustrator who can tell an intelligent story with words and pictures in 32 pages that does not talk down to readers but instead lifts them to a higher level of thinking? I hope so. And, I think that David Mackintosh's newest book, The Frank Show, comes very close.

One thing that William Steig, especially, was not afraid to put in his picture books were adults. Have you noticed how there are very few adults in kid's books anymore? And if they are there, actually on the page and interacting with the children in the story, they are a source of comfort and a boundary. In fact, when I did an informal survey of picture books on the shelf at the store where I work, out of almost 400 titles, less than 50 had adults in supporting roles. We are a huge part of kids' lives! Let's get more adults back in picture books! The Frank Show is all about an adult! A crotchety, opinionated one at that! As the narrator says of him, "My grandpa doesn't always like the way things are. And he always does things his way." When the teacher asks everyone in the class to talk about a family member for show-and-tell on friday, our narrator thinks of his mother first. She is too busy, though, and sends him to his father. Dad suggests talking about his baby sister Minnie, but that's a non-starter. The only person left is Frank, but "Frank is just grandpa." 

Although our narrator doesn't think there's too much to share about Frank with his class, he does know a lot about this guy and takes the reader through a laundry list of Frank's likes and dislikes, which he makes very clear. Frank "likes doing things the old-fashioned way." He doesn't like fancy food (the illustration here shows Frank reaching into a jar of pickled onions for a snack.)  He only needs a haircut once a year and "he only likes listening to his music."

As our narrator learns more about the people his classmates are planning on talking about (Kristian's dad is a comedian on TV, Fay's cousin tells you if your bag is too heavy at the airport, Donny's dad works in a potato chip factory) we see a fantastic illustration of the kids on the schoolyard. Although his best friend's questioning of Frank as a choice for show-and-tell stirs up a burst of pride and conviction in the narrator, he is still quite nervous on the big day. After giving his brief speech, Frank steps in and regales the class with stories of his time in the war, giving his last drop of water to a thirsty horse ad getting green tattoos with his soldier buddies to remember the big battle. Frank stays for lunch with the class and keeps them entranced. 

Don't miss David Mackintosh's previous picture book, Marshall Armstrong is New to Our School and his new book, due out soon, Standing in for Lincoln Green.


Popular posts from this blog

Made by Dad: 67 Blueprints for Making Cool Stuff - Projects You Can Build For (and With) Kids! by Scott Bedford

On his personal website, Scott Bedforddescribes himself as an "Award Winning Online Creative Professional" working within the advertising and design industry. What is more interesting (and applicable here) is how hisWhat I Made website came to be. While sitting in a Starbucks with his restless young sons, trying to enjoy his latte, Bedford created something out of coffee stir sticks that ended up keeping his boys entertained, finishing his coffee in peace and sparking (re-sparking, really) his creative drive and reminding him of the "enormous joy gained from making things, even simple things, and that this joy is not the complexity or quality of the finished project but in the process of making itself. On Bedford'sWhat I Made website, he even shares Six Cool Coffee Shop Crafts for Kidsthat you can try out next time you want to enjoy your coffee and your kids are making that difficult. I've shared two below - be sure to check out the website and see the rest!


POP-UP: Everything You Need to Know to Create Your Own Pop-Up Book, paper engineering by Ruth Wickings, illustrations by Frances Castle RL: All ages

POP-UP:  Everything You Need to Know to Create Your Own Pop-Up Book with paper engineering by Ruth Wickings and illustrations by Frances Castle is THE COOLEST BOOK EVER!!!  I know that I haven't dedicated much time to pop-up books here, but they have always held a special place in my heart, and the phrase "paper engineering" is a favorite of mine. Although I didn't know what it was at the time, I did go through a paper engineering phase when I was ten or so. I would sneak off to the back of the classroom during independent work periods and go to town on the construction paper and glue and make these little free-standing dioramas. A huge fan of The Muppet Show (the original), I reconstructed the all-baby orchestra from an episode, drawing and coloring each baby and his/her instrument then gluing them onto a 3D orchestra section I had crafted out of brown construction paper.  I also made a 3D version of Snidely Whiplash throwing Nell off a cliff with Dudley Do-Right wa…

The Seeing Stick, written by Jane Yolen, illustrated by Daniela J Terrazini

The Seeing Stick is an original Chinese fairy tale written by the prolific (and prolifically award winning) Jane Yolen. First published in 1977 with illustrations by Remy Charlip (author and illustrator of the brilliantly fun picture book Fortunately and friend and muse to Brian Selznick, who asked him to pose as George Méliès while he was working on the Caldecott winning The Invention of Hugo CabretThe Seeing Stick was reissued with new illustrations by Daniela J. Terrazini in 2009. I have not seen Charlip's version, but Terrazini's is a beautiful work of art and the book itself is yet another magnificently packaged book published by Running Press, the house that brought us Steven Arntson's The Wikkeling, yet another superbly and uniquely packaged children's book with artwork by Terrazini. Interestingly, both The Wikkeling and The Seeing Stick were designed by Frances J Soo Ping Chow.

The Seeing Stick begins, "Once in the ancient walled citadel of Peking there l…