Bedtime for Frances

Bedtime for Frances


Book: Bedtime for Frances

Author: Russell Hoban 

Illustrator: Garth Williams

Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers, republished in 2001

ISBN-13: 978-0812422047 (Hardcover)

ISBN-10: 081242204X (Hardcover)

ISBN-13: 978-0064434515 (Paperback)

ISBN-10: 0064434516 (Paperback)

Language level: 1 (1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)

Reading level: Ages 4 and up

Rating: 5 stars (EXCELLENT)

Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker

Disclosure:  Any books donated for review purposes are in turn donated to a library.  No other compensation has been received for the reviews posted on Home School Book Review.

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     Hoban, Russell. Bedtime for Frances (originally published in 1960, republished in 2001 by HarperCollins Publishers).  When our boys were little, one of their favorite books was Bread and Jam for Frances.  Other Frances books include A Baby Sister for Frances, A Birthday for Frances, Best Friends for Frances, and A Bargain for Frances.  Frances, the very human-like little badger girl, made her debut in Bedtime for Francis, and I had forgotten until recently that we had read this book too.  It is Frances’s bedtime, but she is not tired and doesn’t want to go to sleep, so she tries to put off going to bed with requests for milk, her teddy bear, her doll, kisses; with singing silly songs; and with concerns over tigers, giants, spiders, and things that go bump in the night.  Father finally asks, “If you do not go to sleep now, do you know what will happen to you?”  She replies, “I will get a spanking?”  And Father says, “Right!”  How fast will she get to sleep now?

     This book is extremely true to life.  Nearly every child at one time tries to get out of going to bed and imagines all sorts of things like tigers or monsters under the bed or in the closet.  There is a scene where Frances’s parents are asleep.  “Frances stood by Father’s side of the bed very quietly, right near his head.  She was so quiet that she was the quietest thing in the room.  She was so quiet that Father woke up all of a sudden with his eyes wide open.”  We first learned that our older son Mark could climb out of his crib when he did the very same thing to my wife!  Can you believe this book is now very controversial?  Of course the crowd who believes that the only thing which should be a capital offense is spanking a child vehemently hate the book, because, while no spanking is actually administered, it is certainly implied.  No one countenances child abuse, but there is absolutely no evidence that spanking itself harms children.

     Other objections are that the book shows daddy badger smoking a pipe, and both mom and dad actually watching T.V. together.  I personally do not approve of smoking, but if that is the worst objection, it is rather mild.  Also some claim that the book is too scary or that it will give kid tips on how to avoid bedtime.  Sometimes objections to children’s books stoop to the level of the stupid and even hysterical.  If parents think that reading this book would somehow damage their child, then they probably need to hide him or her in a closet away from the real world until age twenty!   One anti-spanking reviewer said that author Russell Hoban needed to get “into the 21st century.”  Well, we’ve seen what the 21st century has to offer so far—massacres at Virginia Tech, Ft. Hood, and now the Aurora, CO, theater.  Rather than the rank relativism of the 21st century, perhaps what we really need is a return to the moral values of earlier generations.  One reviewer well said, “Thank God I grew up in the seventies when we were still allowed to have fun, be kids and yes, occasionally, get our little badger bottoms beat if we got cheeky.”  Amen!  I suppose that part of the reason I give this book such a high rating is precisely because of the inane objections that have been raised against it.

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