Franklin’s Flying Bookshop by Jen Campbell & Katie Harnett

Dragons and books belong together like Luna and Franklin. Jen Campbell, author; poet; BookTuber, weaves together a beautifully written story about a dragon named Franklin who just wants to read books to the people in the village. Luckily, he meets a girl named Luna who also loves to read. They work together to make a bookshop right on top of Franklin’s back! The story is masterfully illustrated by award-winning artist Katie Harnett.

Let’s talk about the writing. What I love about the writing is that, even though this is a children’s picture book, it doesn’t talk down to the audience. This book is a fantastic example of how kids can pick up things without being explicitly told. For example, we know that Luna isn’t afraid of Franklin from the start because A) She’s reading a book in the woods, and B) She asks, “Who are you?” (emphasis mine) instead of “What are you?” (emphasis mine). Little details like this are scattered throughout the book that make it a delight to read. Children’s picture book writing can very easily delve into eye-rolling material, and this never went there.

[Art by Katie Harnett, text by Jen Campbell]

This is a book that begs to be read aloud. On the second page, we read, “He likes to read [stories] out loud for everyone to hear.” This book (heck, all books!) are meant to be shared, not hidden. There is a lot of rhyming in this book; I especially like how it seems to be used as a sort of pacing device. During the climax of the story, when Luna and Franklin are building the bookshop, the rhymes get closer and closer together. Elsewhere, they are more subtle; sometimes they are even just internal rhymes. Alliteration; assonance; and consonance also play a role in the writing, which allow for a great reading experience.

The art in this book is fantastic. I read this book three times in a row: once just the text, once just the pictures, and once both the text and the pictures. The art captures the story perfectly and portrays a diverse cast of characters. Despite being still shots, you can feel the movement in each of the images. We can feel what the characters are feeling from the art alone.

[Art by Katie Harnett, text by Jen Campbell]

As I mentioned earlier, this book allows children to discover its messages without being explicitly told them. For example, there’s a subtle one of, “Third time’s the charm,” since Luna is the third person the dragon talks to. And of course, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” Franklin is a big, scary friendly, knowledgeable dragon. Luna is a little girl who helps the villagers open up to something they might’ve initially seen as scary or different.

In the end, Luna and Franklin belong in your house because they want to read stories aloud with you by the light of the moon.

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