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AN ORANGE FOR FRANKIE by Patricia Polacco


by Patricia Polacco & illustrated by Patricia Polacco

Age Range: 5 - 9

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2004
ISBN: 0-399-24302-X
Publisher: Philomel

Polacco again mines her family history for a true story based on her grandmother’s large family. Frankie is the youngest son in a big family of nine children, with everyone working together on their farm in Michigan. The story takes place during the Christmas when Frankie is ten, when his father is delayed by blizzards when he goes by horse and buggy to buy the oranges for the traditional family Christmas treat. Polacco reveals Frankie’s personality through several incidents, one involving the loss of his special orange. Introductory and closing notes introduce the family history and explain that Frankie died following this last Christmas. The longer story provides lots of details of 1900s-era farm life and Christmas celebrations, augmented by Polacco’s fine watercolor-and-pencil illustrations of snowy Michigan scenes and the crowded farm house. Told with a sentimental, old-fashioned tone that works well with the setting, this occasionally crosses over into the maudlin, especially in the sections that deal with Frankie’s death; Polacco’s illustrations, however, are timeless in their portrayal of a happy family enjoying life together. (Picture book. 5-9)