Without planning it, I guess this week should have been entitled "Treasures from SIBA11"!! Earlier this week, I reviewed Kadir Nelson's gorgeous pictorial history of African Americans in "Heart and Soul". Yesterday I reviewed the emotionally devastating "A Monster Calls" by Patrick Ness. Today, I'm bringing you the utterly enchanting "The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt" by Caroline Preston.
Caroline Preston was one of our authors featured in the last event at SIBA, The Moveable Feast, where every 10 or 15 minutes, a new author comes to visit your lunch table to talk about their book. When she showed us what she had been working on, my heart started to beat a little faster, and put her book way way at the top of my list of things to read as soon as I left Charleston. If you are in the mood for something visual and clever, stop right where you are and check this out.
Summary: Frankie Pratt has always wanted to be a writer. So when she got a blank scrapbook from her mother for her high school graduation, she was determined to practice her skills while documenting her life as a young woman in the 1920's.
Frankie's father died when she was young, so things had always been financially challenging for her and her mother. Instead of going to college, Frankie got a job to help out at home, but when she became entangled with a married man, Frankie's mother made "arrangements" to fund Frankie's education at Vassar. From there we see Frankie go to Greenwich Village, and then across the Atlantic on an ocean liner to Paris. She meets all sorts of colorful personalities, makes friends, and lives the high life, all the while looking for love. Despite all the exciting places Frankie has lived, she does find love in the place she least expects.
Frankie's story is told completely through the items she includes in her scrapbook. Theater tickets, advertisements for clothing and other items, of programs and pressed corsages and menus. She also journals her thoughts and her experiences with her dad's old Corona typewriter. Prepare for a visual delight while you journey through the 1920's with this very likable young woman.
My thoughts: I mentioned this when I reviewed "Chopsticks" last week, but if this is a trend in literature, I am completely on board. Telling stories through pictures isn't a new thing - graphic novels themselves have been around forever. But the craft has taken a turn into territory that is fairly uncharted...ultimate scrap booking.
Make no mistake, Frankie can stand on her own two feet. She is young and full of idealism, wants to find love, make her mark as a writer, and have fun along the way. I found her charming and sweet, if not a tad innocent.
But when you tell her story through vintage memorabilia - memorabilia that was lovingly collected and pieced together by the author (no photo shopping!) it takes on a whole new meaning and takes it to a whole new level. You can read this story in a day, but you will find yourself wanting to sit in a quiet room in the house so you can pour over all the beautiful details. It reminded me of the I-Spy books my kids used to read...you see something new each time you look at it.
I really wanted to provide examples of the pictures for you, but I couldn't find anything that would do it justice, so I'm including this video of Preston talking about the process of putting together this book. I remember thinking that Preston said she was working on a sequel to Frankie, or was that a dream? I truly hope it wasn't, because I'd love to see what Frankie is up to next!
4.5 out of 5 stars