PB 14:14 – Day 10 – Top Ten Elements in Picture Book Stories – Conflict

Today is Day Ten of Christie Wright Wild’s PB 14:14.

In many picture book challenges, we are encouraged to use books that have been published in the last five to ten years. However, being the classic picture book nut that I am, I just had to get in a couple of the older stories. Here is one of my favorites.

a bargain

Title: A Bargain for Frances

Author: Russell Hoban

Illustrator: Lillian Hoban

Publisher: Harper & Row Publishers

Date: 1970

Word Count: 1000+ estimated

Top Ten Element: Conflict


Opening Lines:

It was a fine summer day, and after breakfast Frances said, “I am going to play with Thelma.”

“Be careful,” said Mother.



Frances is a little badger. The last few times she played with Thelma, her friend took advantage of her. This time, they are going to play tea party. Frances has been saving for a special china tea set. When Thelma hears about that, she persuades Frances to buy her old plastic tea set. Frances doesn’t want to until Thelma convinces her that no one wants a china tea set and plastic is better.

Frances shows her sister the new old plastic tea set and her sister thinks she has been foolish. The more Frances thinks about it, the more she agrees. When she sees Thelma buying the china tea set with the money she had given her, Frances knows she has to be clever if she wants to trade the old plastic set back to Thelma.

I won’t spoil the story for you…if you haven’t read it, you really should…and then read it to any young children you know. It is a wonderful story about friendship and ingenuity.

CONFLICT: There is a lot of conflict in this story – Frances is saving her money: should she continue saving it for a tea set they might be all out of or should she spend it on something she can have now? Should she trust her friend, Thelma or trust her mom and sister? Should she turn the tables on Thelma to get the china set she wants or should she keep the plastic set she really doesn’t want?

I especially love the part near the end.

Well,” said Thelma,”from now on I will have to be careful when I play with you.”

“Being careful is not as much fun as being friends,” said Frances. “Do you want to be caeful, or do you want to be friends.”

The story is also strong on plot and character…Frances is the star of several other books by the Hobans. And they also use rhyme and word play…in every book, Frances makes up rhyming songs to sing.

If you’d like to see some of the other books in the PB 14:14 Challenge today, please click on this link: http://christiewrightwild.blogspot.com/2015/02/day-10-mostly-monsterly-by-tammi-sauer.html

About viviankirkfield

Writer for children - Reader forever Mom of 3, educator, author of SWEET DREAMS, SARAH (Creston Books, 2018), picture book junkie, lover of travel, hiking, cooking, playing Monopoly with my 8-year old grandson and fly-fishing with my husband.

Posted on February 23, 2015, in Christie Wild's PB 14:14, Top Ten Elements in Picture Books and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.

  1. Not sure I ever read this one, but I do so remember the Frances books. Thanks for bringing this one back to mind!


    • Yup…there are quite a few of the Frances books…I also love Bread and Jam for Frances…how many kids fixate on eating one particular thing and don’t want to see anything else on their plate? Lots of them! That’s the beauty of a truly great story…universal appeal because children everywhere can see themselves in the character. 😉


  2. I recognize the cover as a classic, but actually I don’t think I’ve read it. I love your summary – it’s so realistic. Kids go through so much friendship drama on a regular basis, and they really are so sneaky! I’ll have to check this one out.


    • Thanks so much, Laura…glad you enjoyed the summary…and I do hope you can get a copy…it’s truly a classic…wish I had been so clever as a young kid (or even as an adult). It’s the type of story I’d love to be able to write. 🙂


  3. Thanks, Vivian. Sounds like a wonderful story of friendship. A warm summary on this cold morning! Like you, I wonder why “I” didn’t write this one!


  4. I am aware of some Frances books but had not seen this one. A great example of conflict.


  5. Good examples of internal and external conflict. Love some of the old classics..thanks for sharing!


  6. Ah, you rebel! Love the classics too. What does that say about me? I don’t want to know! 🙂


  7. Funny how although some truly beautiful new books have been surfacing, some of the old classics will always be with us. Thanks for reminding us, Vivian!


  8. a classic. gotta love Frances.


  1. Pingback: #PPBF/ Red Butterfly | Clarbojahn's Blog

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