Sonderbooks Book Reviews by Sondra Eklund

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I don't review books I don't like!

*****= An all-time favorite
****  = Outstanding
***    = Above average
**      = Enjoyable
*        = Good, with reservations


***Franny K. Stein, Mad Scientist

Attack of the 50-ft. Cupid

by Jim Benton

Reviewed February 3, 2004.
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, New York, 2003.  102 pages.
Available at Sembach Library (JF BEN).

I’m afraid my 9-year-old son and I are completely hooked on the Franny K. Stein books.  They don’t take very long at all to read, and they’re simply delightfully silly.  They appeal beautifully to a grade school kid’s love of the disgusting without revolting the adults who read it.  There’s large type and lots and lots of cartoon pictures, so it’s not at all threatening to beginning chapter book readers, but an experienced reader like my son still enjoys it.

In this, the second episode, Franny’s frustrated that no one understands her.  She needs someone to share her breakthroughs with inventions like a Biggerizer and a Manifester. 

Franny’s mother loves her, so she tries to help.  However, her attempt at getting Franny a lab assistant is a dog who’s part lab.  She hopes that Franny can train him to be an assistant, but he doesn’t seem to learn quickly.

At school, Franny tries to understand this thing called Valentine’s Day.  Between her attempts to follow her teacher’s explanation and the mistaken helpfulness of her lab assistant, we do indeed end up with a 50-ft. cupid on the attack.

Franny must save the day.  Along the way, she learns a little something about love and friendship.

Jim Benton does a fantastic job with this book.  I like Franny’s first attempts at Valentines, for example:  “You’ve stolen my heart, now give it back!”  The picture is of a boy holding an anatomically correct heart with skeleton coming after him. 

The author plants at the beginning, where Franny is showing her inventions to uninterested friends, exactly the tools Franny will need to save the day.  And poking fun at the whole Valentine’s Day idea is something that at least my fourth grader thoroughly enjoys.  I suspect there are many others like him.

Review of other Franny K. Stein books:
Lunch Walks Among Us
The Invisible Fran

The Fran That Time Forgot
Frantastic Voyage

Copyright © 2005 Sondra Eklund.  All rights reserved.

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