Frankie's Foibles: A story about a boy who worries ISBN: 9781849056953
Published by Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2015
Frankie is a real worrier. With his glasses and his worried expression, he looks like he might have low self-esteem, and it certainly hasn't helped that he and his mum have moved into a new house and he must go to a new school. 'We're starting fresh,' mum says.' Granny lives near, and that is good, but Frankie doesn't like meeting new people. He is bright and imaginative and good at remembering things, but his worrying has brought on symptoms of OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder). Everything has to be in threes for Frankie: he brushes his teeth for three minutes, he must have three sandwiches in his lunch, and three chocolate chip biscuits with Granny after school, but most of all he worries about stepping on cracks in the pavement on his way to and from school. Sure enough, school is all he worried it would be, and by the time he gets to Granny's house, he has encountered three bullies who push him in the hedge and upend his bag. He puts a brave face on for Granny, but by the second day when this happens again, she realises something is wrong and makes him explain. Her reply is that he seems to have developed 'pesky foibles', little creatures who whisper in your ear and tell you 'mean or silly thoughts that make you feel scared or sad'. With Frankie's good imagination, he can see the foible on the table in front of him - a little green potato-shaped creature who is cross, obviously a bully! Granny is encouraging and says that foibles can be thwarted, but it isn't easy, and she admits to him that she has one too - it makes her go back and check the door each time she goes out to make sure it is locked. She says the best thing one can do is ignore them, but that this is hard and that she will support him in his quest to get rid of them. The next day another foible appears, this one is blue, so he now has two to contend with. They whisper in his ear all the way to school while he looks down making sure he doesn't step on any cracks. While doing so, he notices a little silver cat brooch stuck between the stones, and as he heard a girl in his class crying the day before because she had lost it, he carries it with him to give back to her. She is so happy that she hugs Frankie and makes an instant friend of him, and they agree to walk home from school together. They meet the bullies, but Millie says to run, which they do, and Frankie 'feels as though he is flying'. The green foible disappears after that because Frankie has stepped on all sorts of cracks in his flight, and he knows that he will be able to defeat the blue one too in time. This is a wonderful story in both picture and text. The author has done both, and done an incredibly good job of giving us a child with a real problem that he must face up to as best he can. One wonders if his family has split up and if the 'new start' has to do with divorce. This is not said, but it could help explain Frankie's problems and his resulting OCD. An excellent book for schools as well as families! Available from Amazon, from good book shops, and from the publisher, www.jkp.com.