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An Orange for Frankie
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An Orange for Frankie

4.31  ·  Rating details ·  1,059 Ratings  ·  98 Reviews
The Stowell family is abuzz with holiday excitement, and Frankie, the youngest boy, is the most excited of all. But there's a cloud over the joyous season: Tomorrow is Christmas Eve, and Pa hasn't returned yet from his trip to Lansing. He promised to bring back the oranges for the mantelpiece. Every year there are nine of them nestled among the evergreens, one for each of ...more
Hardcover, 48 pages
Published September 16th 2004 by Philomel Books
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Lisa Vegan
Jan 07, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Christmastime reading
This is a true (or mostly true) story about the author/illustrator’s great uncle when he was a boy. It takes place near Christmas and makes for a different, but terrific, Christmas story.

The lush winter themed illustrations are lovely.

Until the postscript, I was thinking this book would be fine for children 5 and up. If the postscript is read I’d say 8 and up, but the story is whole without the postscript.

Frankie is one of the middle children and the youngest boy in the family. Polacco’s grandmo
Dec 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Readers looking for meaningful christmas stories, books about families.
Recommended to Hilary by: Lisa Vegan
Patricia Polacco's story of her ancestors who's father would bring home an orange for each child at Christmas. Set in the days of sleds and box cars and an orange being an amazing treat. Lovely story of family togetherness at Christmas and of tradition and passing stories on. Very moving story, the epilogue particularly moving, hard as a read aloud, struggled to keep my voice from wobbling! Plenty to discuss regarding the differences of Christmas then and Christmas now and why the end turned out ...more
Kellyn Roth
Dec 14, 2016 rated it liked it
This is a sad tale ... but happy, too.
Dec 01, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: picture-books
Sweet story, but the overuse of synonyms for "said" is distracting. I've noticed that in other Polacco books too.

Examples on just one page: said, said with alarm, cooed, called out, squealed, scolded (x2), shouted, whispered (this is a popular one throughout the book--apparently Frankie's family does a lot of whispering), blurted out, added and cried.
Linda Lipko
Mar 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Once again, Polacco weaves the wonderment of magic with another family-based story. This tale, handed down from Polacco's grandmother, tells of Frankie, a young member of the Stowell family. Living in Lansing, Michigan, times are tough in the depression era of the United States.

An orange, now an everyday staple in the average American diet, was once a rare and blessed thing. When Frankie's father travels via horse and buggy to meet the train from Florida to obtain the gift of precious oranges,
Kayleigh Scarlett
Feb 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: elm-335
An Orange for Frankie is an excellent book for those in third-fifth grade. It is a historical fiction book that follows the life of a boy in the early 1900s . Christmas is a special time for his family and the book follows the importance of this holiday for them.

This book is great book to read around the holidays, but could work at any time. I would use this book to teach about kindness and giving to those in need. It teaches empathy and that even the smallest gift makes a big impact. I think t
Jan 09, 2011 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: parents reading with their children
This is a sweet tale about life in Michigan long ago, during hard times. Themes of kindness, generosity, and family traditions are woven throughout the story, offering a heartwarming tale for Christmastime reading with children.

I love the willingness to sacrifice for the benefit of others and the kindness received in return. The footnote is sad, but it adds a note of warmth to the remembrance.

I was tempted to mark this one as non-ficiton, but it may be more family lore and based on historical
Dec 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Once again, Polacco has taken an incident from her own family history and turned it into a touching story. A little history, a little tradition, and lots of love. The art in this book is exceptionally well-done and detailed. The train engine, the faces, the setting ... all beautifully rendered. If I'd had this book when I was a child, this would have been one of my favorite stories. I wish I'd had it to read to my older nieces and nephews.

I knew a Stowell family from Wisconsin. I wonder if they
Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance
Dec 29, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: children, christmas
An old family story of the author’s. Frankie shares the sweater his sister gave him with a hobo. His father is delayed by snow and the train engineers, grateful for the meals Frankie’s family always provides, gives Frankie’s father a ride home in time for Christmas. Best part: Sharing the orange. Ages 8-12.
Nov 09, 2010 rated it really liked it
I love heartwarming stories of days long ago and how simple life was on a certain level yet very hard on another leve. This story is based on the truth and the last page tells what happens to Frankie after Christmas. The illustrations were wonderful, every page felt like it was snowing.
Patricia Polacco does it again! 😭😭 I’ll have to add some of these picture books to our collection one of these days. For now, my library card is getting a workout :)
Oct 28, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: pbs-holiday
In our culture of instant gratification it is nice to read about when people really treasured things.
Randie D. Camp, M.S.
Another lovely, touching, powerful true story from Polacco. Patricia Polacco's grandmother is one of nine siblings. Frankie is the youngest of the Stowell family. The Stowells have a family tradition of placing greens and oranges on the mantel for Christmas, and Pa must travel for days in order to obtain the precious oranges. One year, the winter was especially cold and snowy. The Stowells lived close to a train, so homeless men would visit them for warm drinks and bathing and Frankie even offer ...more
Erika Graves
Sep 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This is a Christmas themed book about giving to the less fortunate. Frankie gives his best sweater to a homeless man, even though he fears he may get in trouble by his mother. Frankie's father also makes a special trip to get a Christmas orange for each person in their family. Frankie disobeys his father and ends up losing his orange. When Frankie confesses to his mother that he lost his orange and gave away his sweater, he expects to be in trouble. Frankie's mother was disappointed that he diso ...more
Jun 19, 2012 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
I love this story! We have a similar story in our family about a year that the only present my grandfather and his brothers received was an orange, and so every year everyone at our house gets an orange in his/her stocking.
Oct 29, 2014 rated it really liked it
Years ago, when an orange was the best gift anyone could receive on Christmas, Frankie Stowell is full of anticipation for the return of his Pa. Pa went into Lansing to buy the oranges that arrived from Florida just in time to display on the Christmas Eve mantel. A blinding blizzard was no match for Pa's determination to get home to his family. Frankie was enthralled by those oranges on the mantel. Not heeding Pa's warning to leave the oranges on the mantel, Frankie sneaks it into his shirt as t ...more
The Reading Countess
Frankie is the youngest in a big family. Each year, as part of their Christmas tradition, the clan would place 1 orange on the mantel for each of the nine kids. Papa is the one in charge of bringing them from faraway Florida, but this year, he is late. The family readies the house in preparation for his return, even though worried about his whereabouts. When Frankie discovers that he not only doesn't have his precious orange but the hand knit sweater hister made for him, the family learn an impo ...more
Wow! What a beautiful story, but make sure you have your tissues handy! Patricia Polacco looks to her own family to tell a heartwarming tale of the true meaning of Christmas. Polacco’s grandmother’s youngest brother, Frankie, is so excited for Christmas, because he is going to play an angel in the pageant. But the whole family is worried because Pa isn’t home from his annual trip to Lansing to get the traditional family oranges to go on the mantelpiece on Christmas Eve. A winter storm has held h ...more
Lynn  Davidson
Jun 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviewed
Patricia Polacco's wonderful stories are always full of meaning and sentiment.

Frankie was the youngest boy of the nine children in the family. It was their tradition every Christmas that their father would travel to another town to buy oranges for their mantel for Christmas Eve, nine oranges.
Frankie was always the most enthusiastic. This year he was excited to be the angel in the Christmas pageant; however, his dad wouldn't get to see him because he wasn't back yet due to a big storm. Then, of c
Dec 16, 2014 rated it really liked it
I found this book when I was looking for ones to add to our advent reading. My boys are 9 and 14 and I was hoping to find a few that were a bit older for them instead of all the younger kid books. While this one had a great story it was also a bit longer than we were used to. Part of that I'm sure was we were rushing when we read it this year and the wording tripped me up a bit with how the family talked. Hopefully next year it won't seem as long when we read it as it's a good story and seeing a ...more
Jan 20, 2013 rated it really liked it
A true Christmas book that I'll read to my class each year, besides The Little Match Girl. Patricia Polacco did a fabulous job on the illustrations.

Since the setting is the Depression Era, you know times will be tough. The true meaning of Christmas is conveyed. The giving of the red sweater sticks out in my mind. Another scene that is wonderful is: Frankie just wanting to touch the orange is a believable act--and then losing it! The families solution is what Christmas is about. The families kind
Inger Yoder
Sep 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: children-s-lit
I love, yet another book by Patricia Polacco. The book is incredible and she definitely knows how to catch the reader's attention and to keep it though the book. This story is definitely sad so I would suggest reading it before you read it to the class.

I would read this book to probably to upper elementary. When I helped in a third grade grade class my senior year of high school, I read it to them and they absolutely loved it. This book would also be just a book that I either had in the classroo
Another touching book by Patricia Polacco. The fabulous illustrations help to convey the time period as well as the excitement in the house as Christmas fast approaches. I love it as a memoir of a simpler time, when people told the time by the train coming through their small settlement, and an orange from Florida was an exotic treat. It could be used in the classroom to help students understand aspects of a lifestyle long ago, especially for those who won't be interested enough to read classics ...more
Nov 01, 2008 rated it liked it
Frankie and his eight brothers and sisters learn about giving, family, and tradition during a snowy Michigan Christmas long ago.

This is a story about Christmas traditions and the importance of family at Christmas, not material things. The same theme as in The Memory Cupboard. This is an important theme to stress around the holidays when children seem to be more focused on the gifts they are getting. Many children today may not realize how special it was to have fresh fruit during the winter mont
Whole And
Heart warming in true Polacco style, a Christmas story expressing it's true spirit through kindness and giving, brings family together while demonstrating the lengths we go to for special gifts. Love binds the family together is the main message. A lovely Christmastime book to read.

* Based on a true story, the author's note at the end indicates a saddening event that need not be shared with little ones. Just be aware for those that read on their own.
Dec 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
There are multiple Christmas stories about a child receiving the gift of an orange made from segments of oranges given by others, and this is one of them. There was something so lovely about the story told, though, that I found myself getting teary at the end of the story. It is a family story of the author's, about her own grandmother's youngest brother. With more examples than the orange, this is a book about the joy of giving to others, especially those less fortunate than yourself.
Jamie Forrest
Jan 16, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Okay... Why didn't you tell me that I would need kleenex when I read this one? Very very good.
Dec 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Such a sweet story. Definitely a tear-jerked there at the end. Oh to be so delighted by something as simple as an orange.
Dec 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Sweet Christmas story with a message of living and giving.
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