Frances in the Country by Liz Garton Scanlon, illustrated by Sean Qualls

Published by Neal Porter Books

Summary:  Frances is a city girl, but “the city never seems quite right for Frances.”  The crowds and small spaces make it hard for her to run and shout the way she likes to, and it seems like someone is always telling her to stop what she is doing.  When she goes for a visit to her cousins in the country, she loves the field and barns that allow her to play the way she wants to.  But her sisters and her mother are missing her back in the city, so the visit must come to an end.  Returning to the city, Frances appreciates the music and bustle of the streets there and is happy to be welcomed home by her family.  32 pages; ages 4-8.

Pros:  Frances leads an exploration of the eternal “city vs. country” question which is enhanced by Sean Qualls’s distinctive collage-style illustrations.  Frances is an energetic and likable protagonist who seems to flourish (most of the time) in any environment.

Cons:  Does not definitively make the case for either the country or the city.

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