A Happiness Lesson from the Classic Picture Book “A Bargain for Frances.”

I love teaching stories of all kinds, and I find them in all sorts of places. For instance, picture books.

In Russell Hoban’s brilliant picture book A Bargain for Frances, Frances the badger get tricked by her friend Thelma into making a bad bargain — skullduggery involving a “real china tea set with pictures on it in blue.”

In a thrilling moment of vindication, Frances tricks Thelma right back.

When Thelma complains that she will have to be careful when she plays with Frances, Frances observes, “Being careful is not as much fun as being friends. Do you want to be careful, or do you want to be friends?

An important question for adults as well as children. Sometimes, it’s not worth being friends if we have to be careful.

My close friend experienced this — have you?

Do you remember reading the Frances books? As much as I love A Bargain for Frances, I think Bread and Jam for Frances is my favorite.

I mentioned my list of my 81 favorite works of children’s and young-adult literature. It’s here — alas, it doesn’t include picture books. I should write a separate list for those!




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