Book of the Week: A Bargain for Frances

January 25, 2007

A clever friend (and former Guest Mom here at Design Mom) announced her pregnancy via blog the other day. Her’s was one of 4 exciting announcements I read last week — something in the water? Anyway. She’s having a girl and considering some lovely names, one of which is Frances. I love the name Frances! So in honor of this wonderful name, today I’m featuring the wonderful book: A Bargain For Frances, by Russell Hoban. Illustrated by Lillian Hoban.

I’m just going to copy the summary right from the publisher: Frances and Thelma are best friends — most of the time. When Frances goes to Thelma’s house for a tea party, Mother says, “Be careful. When you play with Thelma you always get the worst of it.” But Frances isn’t careful and her good friend Thelma sells her an old plastic tea set, when Frances really wants a new china one with pretty blue pictures. Worst of all, there are no backsies! But with some clever thinking, Frances ends up getting the best of a bad bargain.

This book was my first introduction to Frances, but my sister-in-law Erin has more extensive Frances experience and assures me every story is worthwhile. What I really like about this book is that it deals with one of life’s harsh realities — friends that are sometimes jerks — in such a graceful, no nonsense way. Maybe it’s because of the era in which it was written, but there’s something not quite politically correct about it. No one explains away the bad behavior of the friend with a description about her upbringing.

Originally published I’m not sure when, this book was reissued in large format last March.

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Anonymous January 25, 2007 at 8:33 am

we seem to have every book of the week that you mention. i love them all, especially frances books. i had them when i was little, too, and wanted a tea set just like thelma’s.


2 Debbie W. January 25, 2007 at 9:17 am

Love, love this series. “Bedtime For Frances” is our family’s favorite, but they are ALL great. And what a wonderful name-Frances!


3 dianam January 25, 2007 at 11:47 am

Frances was our name of choice for our 7 mo old daughter. I’m still a little bummed she came out looking like a Margaret instead because I’m in love with the name still!


4 Rachel January 25, 2007 at 3:41 pm

We ADORE Frances (the name, yes, but especially the character!) in our household. In fact, my little Leah is a bit of a Frances—sings random little ditties when she’s sad and has a bit of the hilarious character. Bargain for Frances is great! Another fave is Birthday for Frances. I laugh my guts out every time. I’d love to try a Chompo bar.


5 Anonymous January 25, 2007 at 7:22 pm

When I was pregnant in 2000, Olive was my favorite girl name. Then I had a boy. Then when I was pregnant in 2003, Frances was the name. I had another boy (and didn’t particularly want to use the boy version, Francis, although I did like Frank). That said, I’m glad you have an Olive and I hope Kacy has a Frances. Then at least someone is choosing fabulous names that I can’t use! But you know, it bugs me a little how similar our taste in girl names is. Would you stop being so awesome already?

Also, I worship the Frances books–especially Best Friends for Frances and Bread and Jam for Frances. Have you ever heard the audio versions read by Glynis Johns? I remember them from when I was a little girl and she reads them perfectly. So delightful.


6 Design Mom January 25, 2007 at 8:10 pm

How great that there’s so much love for Francis. I so need to get my hands on more of these stories.


7 Anonymous January 26, 2007 at 6:19 pm

I love the Frances books but I am so surprised that Frances is making a name comeback. It’s my middle name, my mother’s name and my grandmother’s name.

Are people going to call their daughters “Fran” or “Franny” for short?


8 Anonymous November 1, 2008 at 5:09 pm

Franny rubbed jam on my sleestak and made me wince.Love the series.


9 Anonymous February 20, 2009 at 10:07 am

My name is Frances,and I always loved the books because she spelled her name the right way! (Very important to a 1st grader) Anyway,my family nicname is Fanci. I’d forgotten about these books, but I think I’ll go find some for my first grade twins to read. They are boys, but hey, I’ll convince them they are about me…


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