The Stowell family is abuzz with holiday excitement, and Frankie, the youngest boy, is the most excited of all. But there's a cloud over the joyous season: Tomorrow is Christmas Eve, and Pa hasn't returned yet from his trip to Lansing. Read more...
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The Stowell family is abuzz with holiday excitement, and Frankie, the youngest boy, is the most excited of all. But there's a cloud over the joyous season: Tomorrow is Christmas Eve, and Pa hasn't returned yet from his trip to Lansing. He promised to bring back the oranges for the mantelpiece. Every year there are nine of them nestled among the evergreens, one for each of the children. But this year, heavy snows might mean no oranges . . . and, worse, no Pa
This is a holiday story close to Patricia Polacco's heart. Frankie was her grandmother's youngest brother, and every year she and her family remember this tale of a little boy who learned--and taught--an important lesson about giving, one Christmas long ago
A new holiday story to savor and share
Every year I look forward to adding a few gems to my family's collection of Christmas books, and my latest is Patricia Polacco's An Orange for Frankie. This moving tale of days gone by reminds me of another holiday favorite, Cynthia Rylant's Silver Packages, both books that feature trains, sacrifices and boys named Frankie.
Polacco's 10-year-old Frankiebased on the childhood of her own great-unclelives in a Michigan farmhouse, the youngest boy of nine children. Pa has gone to Lansing to get the precious oranges the family enjoys each year for Christmas, but this year a blizzard hampers his efforts to return home. While everyone anxiously awaits his arrival, Frankie learns heartfelt lessons about giving (he gives his sweater to a needy old man) and honesty.
Readers can revel in the flurry of activity in this wonderful household, as Polacco shares an up-close glimpse of an old-fashioned holiday. Her descriptions of Frankie's life are riveting, and readers will lap up the many details, such as depression-era hoboes jumping off trains to get food handouts, horses and buggies, and bacon and salt pork sizzling on the woodstove.
The author frames this tale at beginning and end with short historical notes, adding that the Christmas she describes was sadly to be Frankie's last. No doubt, though, this young character will live on in the hearts of Polacco's legion of devoted fans, and deservedly so.
Alice Cary writes from Groton, Massachusetts.