This unique story shows a child thinking: Sarah has outgrown her boots and, after a struggle to stretch them, realizes that growing up is natural, happy and irreversible.
Sarah's wonderful old rain boots wouldn't fit her feet. Nothing she tried made them bigger. The dog pulled on them, she filled them with rocks, and she planted them in the ground. Mathew inherited them, to Sarah's annoyance, and her mother bought her new ones. When Mathew worried her boots would shrink for him too, what would Sarah say? The illustrations show Sarah's thought processes and her appropriate, emotional, reactions delightfully.
Franklin faces surgery and learns that bravery means acting properly in spite of one's fears.
Franklin's shell is cracked. Dr. Bear has to put a pin in it, and that means surgery and being anesthetized. Everyone tells Franklin that he is brave, but really he is scared. When he tells Dr. Bear, he learns why he really is brave. This. 'must have' Franklin story is useful to children who face medical or dental work, but it shows any reader the true nature of courage.
Franklin boasts a lie, and learns that true self-esteem and integrity require a focus on genuine abilities.
Franklin seeks borrowed self-esteem by making a boast to his friends that he cannot keep. Realizing his error, he resolves not to make such boasts again. Wanting to recover his own respect, and that of his friends, he comes up with an interesting solution. The story focuses on a theme of honesty and of making the best of a bad situation, rather than on the deeper error of seeking self-esteem through the approval of others. Parental guidance might bring out the latter.
Franklin learns that everyone has to struggle with their particular challenges, just as he has to struggle to cycle without training wheels.
It's time for Franklin to ride his two-wheeler without training wheels. He observes his friends and mistakenly thinks they find it easy, but a closer look helps him grasp that others find various things difficult too. Imagine a porcupine rollerblading, and you get the idea. Porcupine suggests Franklin use rollerblading pads, put pillows beside the walkway for crash landings, and to keep on trying!
Franklin's grumpy mood eases when his father suggests he write to his friend Otter.
Franklin is grumpy. He breaks or loses things and finds no pleasure playing outside. He is even is rude to his mother. Father suggests writing to Otter, who has moved away, and Franklin cheers up. We see that facing the cause of a problem helps solve it. On p15 we see that Franklin knew why he was grumpy. Bourgeois missed a chance to have Franklin introspect, recognize the problem and deal with it himself.
Franklin's first-day fears of school are allayed when Mr.Owl praises his art skills.
Franklin is nervous about his first day of school. Other kids seem to understand reading and numbers, but he doesn't. Mr. Owl makes Franklin comfortable by noticing his coloring, and helps him with reading. By day's end Franklin has worked with building blocks, the classroom store and made several paintings he wants to show his parents. Franklin Goes to School offers a useful look at Franklin's first day at kindergarten, showing children what they can expect.
Franklin apparently 'loves' goldfish and chooses one as a pet.
While Franklin has good arguments for the kind of pet he wants, the "best reason of all" is that Franklin loves goldfish. Is Franklin's love of goldfish itself a reason, or is it the result of his reasons? This, at least, confuses facts and conclusions, but is probably also confusing feelings with reason. Should children experience this confusion as a normal approach to decision making?
The story's conclusion also detracts from the theme of Franklin's responsible pet ownership. We are told (and shown) that he watches Goldie, and blows kisses to her, but we do not see him care for her.
Franklin's sister claims his prized toy as hers, but he does not give it to her.
Franklin enjoys playing with his little sister until she decides Sam, his stuffed dog, is hers. Unfortunately we are only told, and not shown, how he values Sam, so Franklin's conflict with his sister does not feel serious. An unusual conclusion recognizes that a child should have some possessions of his own: "There is only so much sharing a big brother can do", however, it is not enough to correct the weak valuing of Sam.
The fact that his friends have fears seems to be enough to help Franklin brave his dark shell for sleeping.
Bourgeois treats Franklin's removable* shell as if it were scary, like a child's bedroom at night. After seeing that other creatures also had irrational fears Franklin braves his shell, with a nightlight. How do the irrational fears of others suggest one should brave one's own? (*At the Encarta site one can see how a turtle's shell is integrated into its bone structure. Note how the backbone is part of the carapace –the top shell.)
Franklin awaits the birth of his baby sister, and then she arrives. Her arrival is paralleled with the arrival of spring, but there is no conflict, i.e. no plot. All we have is a Naturalist progression of events. The Li'l Critter story The New Baby by Mercer Mayer is much better.