CBR16SweetChallenge #Cozy (the book turned into a cozy read)
I picked up a slightly shelf worn copy of Frankie and Friends V01 Breaking News the other day, though I was not sure why. The cover was not “grabbing me” (there are toys and a girl who looks like a doll herself) but maybe it was because it was short, and I was looking for something that was quick and easy. When I needed a quick break from the more intense stories I was reading (a graphic novel about racism and a graphic novel about mental health), I thought it would work. Even if Christine Platt was writing about contemporary issues (the family is of color) it would not be as intense. I was pleasantly surprised that it was “just” a relatable story about being a journalist and how those skills can be applied to not only finding the “big news story” but practical uses in everyday life. The family just “happens” to be diverse.
Frankie is a young girl who wants to be a journalist like her namesake mother. And though she can’t go with her on the big breaking news trip that pulls mom away from Family Game Night, she still can hone those skills on a mystery/story at home, “Who or what is crying?” In typical child-like innocence, Frankie and her toys, or News Crew, talk about what the steps need to be taken for a good story: find the facts, check them, not assuming, investigate, and so forth. And the clues are everywhere, so the adult reader could pick up on it almost right away, but the aged (read to) five to nine/ten (young 10) will find them with Frankie. There is vocabulary along the way, inserted into the dialogue/thoughts of Frankie, so we can understand the meanings, but there is a glossary as well. We even learn how a new show is set up (even if your camera man… ah bear… gets distracted easily). There are even nods at real news stories that have happened, but are neutral enough that it could be an “anytime” setting.
The illustrations of Alea Marley are fun, bright and detailed as needed. The colors make things pop, keeping your eyes engaged as well as your ears if read aloud to, but also help with the transition from picture books to chapter books. Maybe they are not OMG Best Ever! illustrations, but they fit the story, and things come alive with them. The complement the story and breaking up the slightly heavy text form.
However, as a big sister myself, where are the “big sisters save the day” books? I mean, I like Frankie, she’s a pretty cool kid, but seriously, Raven is the big sister, it’s her job to be brave, and strong and … oh yeah, it is to show that even big sisters need to cry, too. (SPOILER: The crying was happening because Raven missed their mom.) This section of the story has two of my favorite parts of the story: Raven is a teen and is busy with “teen stuff” and acts like it, but there is no real “drama” between the two sisters and they are able to work/play together. The other is the line about “crying is like pooping, eventually, everyone needs to do it.” The humor is a little awkward as the rest of the story was serious enough (for the age and subject), but it’s still fun. As an adult, I have a few questions and wished a few things were explored a bit more, but overall this is a strong book and a pleasant read.