Bedtime for Francis – Russell Hoban

POINTS: 4 out of 10.

Bechdel: 1 point
Variety of characters: 0 points
Good story: 2 points. One from each of us.
Discretionary ideological points: 1 point

Bedtime for Frances is a fairly standard, charming little bedtime book. It’s the first book to clearly pass the Bechdel, as it has Frances and her mother talking to each other, and, in an interesting twist, her mother actually does very little of the active parenting in the book. The parent who repeatedly deals to Frances’ many (and imaginative) reasons for not going to bed is her father. Which I kind of dig. Yay for subverting gender norms!

No points for variety of character though. And ideologically, while it’s not terrible by any stretch of the imagination, I found myself a bit peeved by how Frances’ parents respond to her quite demanding demands by simply giving in. No way in hell would my kid get a piece of cake after bedtime when he’s meant to be in bed, especially if he couldn’t even manage to say ‘please’!

Still, Frances is a delightful character, and the things she imagines in her room walk the line between being scary and being quite obvious ploys so she doesn’t have to sleep. C’s comment at the end was, “She’s very cheeky, isn’t she?!”

We both enjoyed it though. It’s a charming little book, Frances’ lack of manners notwithstanding. It probably deserves better than its 4 out of 10, but I couldn’t really justify much more than that.

What do you think? Have you encountered Frances before? What’s your favourite bedtime story?

5 thoughts on “Bedtime for Francis – Russell Hoban

  1. We got “A Baby Sister For Frances” as a present from my parents (I’d enjoyed the books when I was a kid – and Hoban’s other children’s books, “Captain Najork” and “The Mouse And His Child” especially) when we had a new baby to add to the household and big sisters who had to adjust. It’s still a favourite with the two younger kids.


  2. I have to admit, I loved the Francis books when I was a very little. My favorite was Bread and Jam for Francis.


    1. Honestly I think later ones will score much higher. “Best Friends for Frances” is one of my favourite kids’ books EVER. And that one would score way better. And will when I get to it, I think.


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