Author: Emmy Swain
Illustrator: Levi Whitworth
Year published: 2011
Publisher: Emmy Swain
Number of pages: 25
Recommended age: 5+
Daughter Rating: ★★★★☆
Grown-up Rating: ★★★★☆
Reviewed by: Renee and Danielle (Mother and Daughter)
Summary (from back cover): John is worried about adapting to his new life after his mother lost her job. With the influence and inspiration from his new friend, Franklin Bean, John finds a smile on his face once again. This magical little dog, full of surprises, will keep your imagination wondering; leaving you eager to read more Franklin Bean.
What it’s about: This book is about a boy named John who was starting a new school after he moved. John meets a talking dog named Franklin Bean who is also a super-hero named Pancho Frijole – which actually means Franklin Bean in Spanish.
What I liked and disliked about it: I liked that the book had chapters, pictures, and not too many pages, but a lot of words. I don’t normally like stories that have talking animals (unless they are cats) because I’m an older kid, but younger kids might really like it. It was kind of odd that the super-hero was a dog because it would normally be a person. We all laughed when it showed the picture of Pancho Frijole because we weren’t expecting him to be a dog. I figured out right away that when Franklin Bean was wet, it meant that Franklin Bean had changed into Pancho Frijole in the water.
It must be difficult for John to move to a different city, different school, and make new friends because his Mom lost her job. I felt bad for him. I’m glad that Franklin Bean helped him. I liked the little puppy named Kirby that Franklin Bean was friends with – he was cute!
My bottom line: I enjoyed reading this book and the second one, Franklin Bean: Secrets of the Bay. I would recommend this book to kids 4 years and older.
What it’s about: Meet Franklin Bean introduces us to a strange and mysterious talking dog, Franklin Bean who also hides a secret: he is superhero named Pancho Frijole. Franklin Bean befriends John, a boy new to the neighborhood and anxious about meeting and making new friends. Loyal Franklin Bean helps John adjust to his new surroundings all the while providing assistance to those in need.
What I liked and disliked about it: Meet Franklin Bean is a book with a solid, interesting, and unique plot. We are introduced first to John, a young boy who moves to a new neighborhood. I think many children will relate to the feelings John experiences: feeling isolated, lonely, friendless, and bullied. I’m sure that kids in those shoes would appreciate having a confidante with which they can discuss their feelings. Franklin Bean is a loyal friend who helps John by giving him concrete ways to approach new people and befriend them.
I like how the author slides in some information about nutrition and healthy eating. For example, John’s mother describes options for a healthy breakfast:
“You can have oatmeal with fresh blueberries or whole grain toast with honey and a glass of milk.”
Then, you’ve gotta love John’s response:
“Why can’t I have Grape Goblin cereal like everyone else?”
Of course my kids wanted to know where THEY can get Grape Goblin cereal! lol
The illustrations in the book are fantastic and they really add value to the book. The book is a chapter book, but it is a bit short to be a full chapter book so I think adding the pictures keeps the younger kids interested in the story. Even my daughter agrees that the book is probably more appropriate for a younger audience (she’s 9) because of its length, but she still did enjoy the story and looking at the pictures. My son also really enjoyed the book.
At the very beginning of the book, the themes are actually a bit heavy for younger kids. John’s mother, a single mom, loses her job and is forced to move her family to a new neighborhood. The opening page describes how John is watching his house being packed up and emptied. A bit later in the first chapter, the mom even discusses that they have to be careful with their money.
My bottom line: The kids and I enjoyed reading Meet Franklin Bean. I would like to also mention that the author provided us with a review copy of the second book in the series, Franklin Bean: Secrets of the Bay. We also really enjoyed that book as well. It continues along the same vein as the first, but the second book is more evenly focused between John’s perspective and Franklin Bean’s perspective. I would recommend these books to boys and girls aged 5+.
** Meet Franklin Bean and Franklin Bean: Secrets of the Bay was provided to us free-of-charge by the author. **
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