FAQs are Frequently Asked Questions
I get asked about Franklin the Turtle a lot and I’m happy to answer to answer your questions here. If you find your question is not answered below, please feel free to suggest a question in the comment box. I’ve used the third person–my name–so that you can cut and paste the responses into your own projects.
How did Franklin in the Dark get published?
The story was rejected by six publishers before Kids Can Press expressed interest. After Bourgeois rewrote the story several times, it was sent to illustrator Brenda Clark. For that first story, there was no collaboration between author and illustrator; in fact, the two didn’t meet until after the book was published. “When I first saw the illustrations, I was overwhelmed by Brenda’s talent,” says Bourgeois. “I think the reason the books have done so well is because Brenda has made the characters so empathetic.” Franklin in the Dark was a Canadian best-seller, when it appeared in 1986.
Did the author always plan to write a series?
Despite the success of her first effort, Paulette was surprised when Kids Can Press asked her to write a second Franklin story. “Franklin in the Dark was one story about one thing,” she said. “I never intended to write a series.” However, she found another situation true to the life of a five year old and Hurry Up, Franklin was published in 1989. Bourgeois and Clark have since created more than two dozen Franklin stories that appear in 38 countries and 24 languages, including Hebrew, Greek and Turkish. There are now more than 50 million Franklin books in print around the world, a television series, and a host of Franklin merchandise.
Why is Franklin the only character with a name?
When Paulette first wrote Franklin in the Dark, the story was all about the turtle’s fears and not about his community. In the second book, Hurry up, Franklin, Paulette wanted to make sure that Franklin was the most important character and so, she didn’t give any of his friends names.
Why is Franklin called, Benjamin, in the French Scholastic books?
In the beginning, the editors at French Scholastic thought Franklin should have a name familiar to French-speaking children. In the early years, Franklin had different names in different countries. He was once called, Dorkus, Patrick, and Morten! When there was more merchandise, movies, and DVD’s it was decided that each foreign publisher would have to keep the name, Franklin the Turtle.
Why does Paulette write Franklin can count by twos and tie his shoes, when he doesn’t wear shoes?
There are lots of things that Franklin CAN do that he doesn’t NEED to do and tying his shoes is just one of those things.
Do Paulette and Brenda work together?
No, Paulette writes the story. Sometimes that happens very quickly in only a couple of days and sometimes she struggles for months and months to get just the right words. She sends the story to editors at Kids Can Press who make sure that the story is the best that it can be. Paulette rewrites each story after discussing the suggested changes with her editor. Each story undergoes at least three rewrites before it is ready to go to Brenda. Brenda reads the story, gets ideas for the illustrations and if she sees a problem, for instance, the characters stay in one boring space for the whole story, she talks over more changes with Paulette. Then she draws tiny pictures in pencil, called, thumbprints, that lay out page, by page, the entire story. Once that is approved by her editors, she starts the long process of drawing, and then painting.
Even though Franklin isn’t a real turtle, Brenda Clark has made sure that the animal characters in the books are very realistic. She can spend up to one year doing all of the detailed illustrations for the books.
Many of the books do not have the names of the author and the illustrator on the cover. Why?
After Brenda and Paulette had created 28 Franklin books, they wanted different writing challenges and so they both took on new projects. Sharon Jennings, who is a wonderful children’s author, has written Franklin’s Thanksgiving, Franklin’s Neighbourhood, Franklin Goes to Hospital and with Paulette, Franklin’s Valentines. She has written every one of the Franklin books which are based on the Nelvana television series and the Easy Readers.
Are there going to be more Franklin books?
Probably not for a long while.
What is Paulette writing now?
Paulette is writing a book for middle-grade readers, an adult novel and a screenplay.
Do you have any pets?
My family had a wonderful dog named, Dixie, who died after a good, long life. I have never had a turtle!
Do you have a favourite Franklin book?
I really like them all, but I am particularly fond of the first Franklin book, Franklin in the Dark, and Franklin’s Blanket. I laugh every time I read that story aloud to children.