Perversity for its own sake seems the overarching principle of Johnson's ( The Cow Who Wouldn't Come Down ) thoroughly sour story of a boy with a magical ability. By sticking out his tongue and crossing his eyes, the unfortunately named Frank Fister jinxes things. First, he prevents his mother from making her specialty, banana-tuna chow mein; later, he puts the whammy on an ice cream truck so that ice cream pours from the machines and every kid gets a free cone. Narrative logic, never solid, utterly disappears with the introduction of diabolical ice cream vendor Mister Freezee: ``Mister Freezee was not really an ice cream man. And he was anything but nice. In truth, he was an out-of-work chicken thief.'' Freezee--disguised in a shower cap and rubber nose--kidnaps Frank, ties him up and puts a piece of tape over his mouth (``So you don't try anything funny with that tricky tongue''); then Freezee forces Frank to use his skill for the evil purpose of chicken-stealing. Adult readers, incidentally, won't need dirty minds to spot classic examples of S&M. This graceless work never coheres, but simply jumps from one inane detail or development to the next. Ages 4-7. (Mar.)
School Library Journal
K-Gr 2-``Whenever Frank Fister crossed his eyes and stuck out his tongue at the same time, he could make things not work.'' This is a fine way of foiling a bully's prank involving spit wads and of turning off his sister's TV show, but then Frank makes Mister Freezee's ice-cream spigots malfunction. At first the man is furious, but then he sees potential for such talent. So, he kidnaps the boy and uses him to help steal chickens. Frank escapes, and then destroys the talent by making the face in the mirror. It is unfortunate that Johnson, who shows a sense of humor and imagination in his earlier work, falls short of the mark this time. The story is never fully realized, and the bold, grotesque illustrations feature stereotyped characters. The humor of mother making disgusting meals, such as liver and onion cheesecake, falls flat.-Nancy A. Gifford, Schenectady County Public Library, NY
When Frank Fister's mom tries to make banana-tuna chow mein, Frank crosses his eyes and sticks out his tongue and then the can opener breaks. After a little more experimentation, Frank realizes his ability to stop machinery is a certifiable talent. But Mr. Freezee, an ice-cream-stand owner and out-of-work chicken thief, realizes it, too. Frank and a dog pal, Rusty, are kidnapped by the ice-cream man, who forces them into a life of petty crime; but the boy and his dog keep their wits about them, and soon the headlines read: FRANK FISTER FOILS FOWL FELON. The textured paintings are expansive and complement the tongue-in . . . er, out-of-cheek narrative with new-wave flair. While the satire doesn't always work, adults, especially those who can do Mr. Freezee in their best Bogey voice, should get a kick out of sharing this silly yarn.