Sunday, April 10, 2011

Anniversary Edition: Franklin in the Dark by Paulette Bourgeois

In 1986, Franklin got over his fear of the dark with the aid of a night-light. He was a turtle so bright green you figure he almost should have been able to provide his own illumination. Millions of children around the world didn’t see it that way, especially when they discovered that the dark he was afraid of was inside his own shell. They were enchanted by Franklin’s antics -- both with nightlights, then soon beyond -- and he went on to become the star of 30 books read by children in many languages all around the world.

Twenty-five years on, Franklin isn’t looking the least bit tired by the turning of years and all that success and, in honor of this momentous occasion, KidsCan press has introduced an special 25th Anniversary Edition of Franklin in the Dark, the book in which the beloved turtle made his debut. It’s a very special hardcover that includes a letter from the author. “After hearing the television character Hawkeye on M*A*S*H say he was so claustrophobic, he’d be afraid of his own shell,” Bourgeois writes, “I had my idea for a story.” Bourgeois adds that she thought it would be a “one-time deal.” She couldn’t have been more wrong.

A letter from illustrator, Brenda Clark, who has so carefully brought Franklin to visual life all these years is here, as well along with some very interesting early sketches for the book.

A section at the rear of the book takes readers through Franklin’s history, from the editorial process right through to his phenomenal success in almost every medium.

But of course -- and appropriately -- the bulk of the book is given over to Franklin’s first tale, here reproduced in all its luminous glory. To think now that a second generation is likely reading the story to their children is a warming thought, not to mention an inspiration for turtles everywhere.

On the occasion of the anniversary, KidsCan has re-released a dozen classic Franklin stories. ◊

Sienna Powers is a transplanted Calgarian who lives and works in Vancouver, B.C. She is a writer and conceptual artist.

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