Debut author Pearce introduces redhead Frangoline, who is “Pure as milk and good as gold” by day but turns into an impish minx at night.
She escapes cloaked in her cape and wreaks havoc, rudely awakening fearsome night creatures and recklessly dancing on tombstones. Poor moon worries from above and repeatedly warns, “Little ones should be in bed!” The naughty girl defiantly continues her nighttime fun—she’s Frangoline, after all. But the disturbed ghosts rise up and chase Frangoline to the steeple’s top, where she ends up trapped and petrified. “She gazed ’round with fear and dread. / She cried, ‘I think it’s time for bed!’ ” Moon rescues a now-contrite Frangoline, who quickly finds herself “snug and warm in bed”—at least for now. Elliott ably portrays the young girl’s gleeful wickedness amid deep, dark backgrounds that contrast nicely with Frangoline’s fiery hair and white nightgown. Preschoolers and their parents will relate to the girl’s changeable nature and are likely to relish her willful adventure. The text unnecessarily changes typefaces and sizes and sprawls in a busy variety of curves, wobbly lines and slanted diagonals. This reflects the girl’s chaotic actions, but it feels overdesigned. Moreover, the rhyming text mostly flows, but the repeated, slightly altered refrain lacks a syllable and trips the tongue.
Still, despite imperfections, young readers will likely embrace the quirky, oddly endearing Frangoline. (Picture book. 3-6)