Thursday, December 25, 2014

A Picture Book a Day for a Year: Day 250

Picture Book: An Orange for Frankie

Author & Illustrator: Patricia Polacco

Summary: This true story of Polacco’s grandmother’s family of origin begins a few days before Christmas as the annual rituals are being anticipated. Before Christmas Eve is over, Frankie, the youngest boy of 9 children, must make 2 confessions. The Stowells are a generous family. When the train comes through, the engineer stops the train and brings the hobos to the Stowells home for a warm meal. Generous Frankie, gives a shirtless hobo a nearly new sweater that Frankie’s sister knitted for him. Frankie is especially excited about the 9 oranges, 1 for each child, that his Pa always brings from Lansing and places on the mantle. However, the weather is delaying his father. The preparations continue as if Pa wasn’t absent, but all are worried. Frankie is especially focused on the missing oranges. Pa does arrive, and the oranges are placed on the mantle and all are told not to touch them until after Christmas Eve worship. While his family gets dressed for church, Frankie holds his orange and then places it in his pocket. As the evening progresses, the orange is lost. Once home, Frankie hides and cries in his room upstairs. When his mother asks for an explanation, he confesses both the sweater gift and the absence of his orange. She praises his generosity, but leaves him in his room to ponder his actions regarding the orange. Meanwhile downstairs, Ma explains, and Frankie’s siblings each give 1 section of their orange to create the shape of a new orange for Frankie and wrap them with ribbon. When Frankie comes down, he is given his orange. Pa explains, “Our family is like your orange, Frankie. Love holds us together like the ribbon.” Sadly, this book ends with Polacco explaining that the Christmas of Frankie’s orange was Frankie’s last Christmas, but he has been remembered fondly by generations throughout the extended family because of this story.

Hanna’s Comments: This is such a rich story! I can understand why it has been passed down through Polacca’s family. It celebrates family rituals of generosity, holiday cheer, and loving bonds. It also touches on issues of disobeying parents, disappointing others, heartfelt confession, and sweet mercy from those who you love most. This is a story that offers much for consideration and conversation. Encourage your listeners to talk about the importance and faith aspects of their December holiday rituals and what they remember most about them.  

Publisher & Date of Publication: Philomel Books, 2004

Age & Grade Appropriateness: 6 and up, 1st and up

# of Pages: 48

Available in Spanish? Not at present

Formats other than Book: None at present

PBT Category: Post 2K

PBT Topics this Book Connects with: ancestor/patriarchs & matriarchs, blessings, brokenness, covenant/promises/vows, creativity/imagination/ingenuity, disobedience/obedience, family, feasting/food/hunger/nutrition, forgiveness/mercy/redemption, generosity/giving/offering/stewardship, God’s nature, grace, grandparents, greed/selfishness, guilt, heritage, home, honesty, hospitality, intercession, kingdom of God/reign of God, memories/remembering/ritual/tradition, mistakes, nurturing, parables/stories, parents/parental love, possessions, regret/repentance, secrets, sharing, siblings/sibling rivalry, sin, temptations, unity

Scripture Connections: Whoever conceals his transgression will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy (Proverbs 28:13); confess your sins to one another (James 5:16)

Idea(s) for Application: Read this book to children or adults in your faith community and encourage them to consider the best and worst of Frankie and how each of them might share some of his qualities. Talk about the examples of grace in this story. Then talk about the importance of holiday rituals, family stories, and unconditional love.  

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