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An Orange for Frankie Hardcover – September 16, 2004
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From School Library Journal
Grade 2-4–The author/illustrator has turned again to her family history for this story of a Christmas long ago in rural Michigan. The plot is predictable, revolving around Pa's late return from Lansing with the traditional nine oranges, one for each child; 10-year-old Frankie's generosity to a hobo; and the boy's subsequent loss of his orange. Polacco's watercolor-and-pencil illustrations are well rendered as always and appropriate for this slight but wordy, nostalgic tale.–V. W.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
K-Gr. 2. Autobiography melds with history in this poignant tale of a family tradition, set around Christmastime during the Great Depression. Polacco introduces the Stowell family, a brood of nine living on a farm just outside of Detroit. Though they don't have a lot, the family never hesitates to share its good fortune, often feeding hungry hoboes as they pass through the nearby train station. Frankie, the youngest son, even gives one of them his favorite sweater. When Frankie loses the precious Christmas orange given to each child, he tells his mother about his error and also fesses up about his missing sweater. His family is so moved by his charitable gesture, it^B rallies to make sure Frankie has the most special gift of all. Polacco illustrates the story in her trademark watercolor-and-pencil style, with key elements picked out in bright color against more muted backdrops. Like many of Polacco's picture books, this holiday story about gifts and giving is based on a chapter from her own family history. Terry Glover
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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The strory has all the elements of a classic Christmas story - people in need, selfless actions, separartion of a loved one, blizzard, happiness and appreciation for family and the little things in life that truly matter. This story would make a wonderful TV Movie for one of the family Cable TV stations. How refreshing and meaningful a movie like this would be compared to the Christmas Romance TV movies which have become rather stale!
To fully appreciate this story, one must remember that oranges were not as plentiful in the late 1800's and early 1900's as they are today. They were rather rare and expensive. The gift of an orange back then was a valuable gift. To this day the tradition of giving oranges still reamains in churches, Sunday schools and some schools.
Every year the precious oranges were displayed on the fireplace mantel of the Stowell family's farmhouse as part of the Christmas decorations - nine of them to be exact - one for each child in the family. Pa took the horse drawn sleigh to Lansing to obtain the oranges for this year's Christmas decorations but became stranded in a snowstorm. The train passed right by the Stowell family's property and would often stop at the Stowell farmhouse where the conductor would stop for coffee and breakfast. On this particular day, the conductor brought guests with him -- hobos who were homeless, hungry and cold. Frankie, the main character in the book, shows the true Spirit of Christmas by doing a wonderful thing. You will want to read this book to find out about his wonderful selfless act. You will also want to experience Pa being stranded in the blizzard and a wonderful miracle occurring. You will also want to read about Frankie's awful mistake and how the family banded together to make this Christmas extra special. This story is based on true incidents in the life of Patricia Polacco's family. There is a wonderful epilog included at the end of the book describing a miracle that occurs each Christmas in the households of the descendents of Frankie Stowell.
This is a Christmas gem which belongs in every family's Christmas library. The story would be an excellent read aloud during the Advent Season in preparation for Christmas. The book would be an excellent read aloud book in the school classroom as well. I loved it - you will too.
An Orange for Frankie is a touching story of a young boy who learns about truthfulness, obedience and the gift of sharing. An absolute delight to read!