Tag Archives: Lillian Hoban

How old is Frances?

My six-year-old son wants to know.  That’s Frances as in Bread and Jam for Frances and A Bargain for Frances.  “Is she younger or is she older than me, do you think?”  He’s thinks she must be younger but it’s hard to tell with badgers.

When we were kids in the late 1970s, my brother and I would sometimes stay overnight with our paternal grandparents.  We’d play Uncle Wiggily and eat ice cream and watch Lawrence Welk and Hee Haw.  Afterwards, my grandmother would read Curious George or Frog and Toad or Frances stories to us.

I liked the Frances books.  The blues and pinks and yellows in Lillian Hoban’s illustrations were so soft and nicely faded.  The wordplay and diction was unlikely, as if the stories had been translated from some other language into our own.  I wasn’t concerned with Frances’s age.  But I never could tell if she was, in fact, a girl or an effeminate English boy in the style of Christopher Robin.

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