Book Review: An Orange for Frankie

Posted by Katie Meyers on December 9, 2023
Book Review: An Orange for Frankie

Every family has their own unique traditions and memories at Christmastime. An Orange for Frankie is a children’s book by Patricia Polacco. It is a poignant story about 10-year-old Frankie, her grandmother’s youngest brother.

This heartwarming family story takes place in rural Michigan in the early 1900s. There were nine children in the Stowell family. They were not wealthy people but shared generously. Frankie had a kind heart himself and gave his favorite sweater to a homeless man without a shirt.

Every Christmas, Frankie’s father would meet the train in Lansing to bring home one orange for each of his children. Besides the entire family being together, the promise of an orange was the highlight of Frankie’s Christmas.

The children were instructed not to touch the oranges on the mantle after Frankie’s father returned home. However, Frankie disobeyed and hid the orange in his sweater before he was caught. In all the bustle of the evening, Frankie lost his precious orange.

“Frankie, you didn’t do a terrible thing,” his mother said. “Maybe a thoughtless thing, taking that orange. But you did a noble thing too, giving something that meant so much to you to someone who needed it. That is the true spirit of Christmas, my darlin’.”

An Orange for Frankie has been a family favorite of ours for years. The book is full of beautiful, whimsical artwork (which is a must). I love the compassion the Stowell family had on those less fortunate and the story of a young boy who simply looked forward to an orange for Christmas.

A part of why I love this sweet story is because we always received an orange in our stocking at Christmas. It was my Papa’s tradition. He was raised in the prairies of Alberta, and the only time he had an orange as a child was from his Christmas stocking.

“That was the most splendid Christmas ever for Frankie and all the Stowells. The oranges were eaten—all nine of them savored down to the last bite.”

This book is recommended for preschool through elementary children, but it is a delightful family story for all ages.

Katie Meyers

Katie writes for a digital marketing agency. She grew up at Faith Bible Church and serves in Aspiring Women and as a writer for Living Faith magazine. 

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