Frankie Pickle, star of previous graphic-hybrid novels, is once again in, well, a pickle.
This time, it's math that's giving Frankie fits. His teacher gives him a second chance after he spends the period doodling on an important math test instead of actually taking it. His parents employ a real-world approach to help their son master fractions, multiplication and word problems. Though Frankie eventually aces his test, readers are not treated to the same level of fun found in previous episodes (Frankie Pickle and the Pine Run 3000, 2000, etc.). His forays into the imaginary land of Arithmecca lack humor, and the underlying lessons are all too obvious. Perhaps the novel's problem is in its subject: The earlier topics (messy rooms, pinewood-derby racers) brimmed with comic potential, where math issues are rarely hilarious. Occasionally the humor hits its mark. The picture of a bearded Frankie in the same math class with his little sister will bring a chuckle to any child who wonders just how many grades someone could be held back in school. This hybrid story—prose when Frankie is in the real world but depicted in comic-book panels when he daydreams—still holds appeal for Frankie's fans and new readers looking for something after their umpteenth reading of Captain Underpants.
Ultimately, math teachers and parents might like this mildly amusing offering, but it just won't add up to much for many real-life Frankies. (Graphic hybrid. 7-10)
School Library Journal
Gr 2�5—In his latest adventure, Frankie stumbles through a math quiz on a Friday afternoon, only to be given a second chance after school on Monday. He knows he has the weekend to study, but his family members distract him with fun things to do. Frankie doesn't realize at first that the activities—shopping with coupons, baking muffins, playing with his Yugimon cards—all involve math. In the end, with added confidence, he aces the quiz and realizes that the answers were inside him the whole time. Part graphic novel and part beginning chapter book, this is a great read for reluctant and slow readers, who may identify with Frankie.—Nancy Mackenzie, Ithan Elementary School Library, Bryn Mawr, PA
Read an Excerpt
Frankie stared at the first question on his math quiz, and wrote down the number 23. That didn’t seem right. He attacked it with his eraser, leaving behind a black smudge cloud. Maybe if he skipped ahead, the next problem would be easier to solve.
It wasn’t. This one was even scarier. In fact, if Frankie turned his head sideways, the number 3 kind of looked like fangs. He drew a pair of wings on it. Now it was a vampire bat! He added horns and claws and spiked tails to the other numbers.
Frankie’s quiz was covered with number monsters! Better get rid of them before his teacher, Miss Gordon, found out. Biting down on the green metal end of his pencil, Frankie squeezed out every smidge of eraser he could. He went to work scrubbing an 8 with a Cyclops eye when his eraser—his ONLY eraser—popped out of the pencil, double-bounced across his desk, and rolled underneath Miss Gordon’s chair.
These number monsters weren’t going away without a fight.
© 2011 Eric Wight