“So H–,” said I to our four-year-old son one day, “What are some of your favorite books?”

He only paused for a moment. “Frances,” he replied.

My husband and I heartily concur. All six Frances books by Russell Hoban easily claim high ranking in our family favorites, and keep improving with better acquaintance. I liked them when I was a child; I love them as an adult! Bedtime, Baby Sister, Bread and Jam, Birthday, Best Friends, Bargain, and even Egg Thoughts (the little known collection of poems) are well-written and insightful. Frances is a believable child, dealing with realistic challenges that are very familiar in our family (extended bedtime, picky eating, sibling rivalry, etc). She is not perfect like present incarnations of Curious George, Clifford and Thomas the Tank Engine (more on that in another post), but her character develops throughout the books in ways that children can identify with. The parents are wise, involved, and have a good relationship with their children (and each other). The songs she invents are witty and open to any tune you want to make up. Many lines in the story are highly quotable. And if you want to plan a picnic, use one of the delightfully elaborate menus described in Bread and Jam or Best Friends! (Both Betsy and I have done this with our then-future spouses.)

There is also a good audio version that H has enjoyed from our library, and as these books have not yet grown tiresome in our house, it is a good option for quiet-time listening.

I highly recommend that you discover or rediscover Frances. You are in for a treat and will not be disappointed!

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