October 25, 2010
Franklin the Turtle
It all started with a birthday gift my son received when he was three or four years old: a whole collection of Franklin books. I must confess that it was a "non return without receipt" policy that encouraged us to keep the books as I, the story reader, had never seen the turtle book and I wondered about reading a book in translation to my children. It turns out that Franklin is written by a French Canadian author, Paulette Bourgois and illustrated by Brenda Clarke another Canadian.
What I enjoyed most are the cute narratives of a child's daily activities. The personality development is done to perfection. We know Franklin very well by now and the various stories are consistent in character portrayals. Not just Franklin but his friends Martin the Bear, Lili the Beaver, Arnold the Snail, Jack the Rabbit, Beatrice the Goose, the Owl teacher and Franklin's parents. The community around Franklin is almost as diverse as the Simpsons!
It always starts with what Franklin knows: he can tie his laces, or he can count two by two, or he can recite the months of the year. Then, at page 2, the adventure begins. Franklin is buying a new bike helmet, or he is being overwhelming to his friends, or is on a mission to finish a house task, or he wants a sibling, has an operation, becomes a boy scout, has a new babysitter, celebrates Valentine's day or is afraid of storms.
In this decade, when children have all become "little emperors" and their upbringing is based on communication with the parent rather than authority the way it was with children in the Seventies, Franklin embodies all the quirks kids get as a result of this open communication policy. In fact, my older brother couldn't help noticing that Franklin is always moaning. I couldn't disagree with him but at the end of each story, he straightens out, admits to be wrong, says he is sorry, is reminded to respect others and not to be materialistic. There are many open messages and a good morality to every story.
I can often tell my kids: well, Franklin reacted the same way as you, but he realized that he was wrong and he corrected his behavior. In the end, the Franklin stories do help with communicative upbringing. It is good to have a falliable role model. My children gladly identify themselves with Franklin.