Franny K. Stein: Lunch Walks Among Us by Jim Benton
Franny K. Stein is different from all the girls and boys. Instead of playing dolls and softball she plays with Chompolina – a doll with razor-sharp teeth and she thinks softball would be better if played with real bats, not wooden sticks.
Franny knows she’s different – she’s not just a little girl, she’s a mad scientist. Kids her age don’t understand her, and because of it they don’t want to be her friend.
Alone and outcast, Ms. Shelly, Franny’s teacher realizes it, talks to Franny and plants the seed of doing a science experiment. Suggesting a science experiment to Franny is like letting a child loose in a candy store. From there on she sets out to become someone her fellow classmates will like.
After mixing test tubes and beakers, she drinks up and is scientifically transformed. And to her surprise all the kids like her – love her in fact. But when, after lunch, an atomic pumpkin headed monster emerges from the garbage, will the new and improved Franny shine, or will the mad scientist?
Jim Benton’s Franny K. Stein: Lunch Walks Among Us has a plot that is very formulaic and predictable, however that does not hinder the book in any way. In fact it helps make the book approachable to reluctant readers, and makes it an easier read for the intended young audience.
Benton has not only created a funny and loveable mad scientist – as opposed to other mad scientists creations featured in other books. Franny K. Stein is a character that every young child could relate to, and a story for all children who walk on the cusp of being different. What is so great about Franny K. Stein is that through her Benton has broken stereotypes when thought about most mad scientists are men, and they rarely save the day. Franny is the exact opposite, and a breath of fresh air.
The illustrations featured in Lunch Walks Among Us are black and white, probably trying to lend an eerie feel to a child friendly “scary” story. All illustrations exemplify the text but can not stand-alone. This book is an instance where the illustrations do not drive the book, but the text does.