Written by Kate DiCamillo
Illustrated by Chris Van Dusen
(Candlewick; $6.99, Ages 6 – 9)
Now available in paperback, Franklin Endicott and the Third Key is the latest installment in Kate DiCamillo’s popular Tales from Deckawoo Drive series. In this early chapter book, which is divided into eight chapters and a coda, the story focuses on Frank.
Frank worries about everything, a trait that many kids (and adults, including this reviewer) will be able to relate to. It is one of these worries, which Frank has recorded in his book of worries, that leads him to his neighbors’ home to do some research using the Lincoln sisters’ . . . encyclopedias! No internet here! How refreshing to read about a child doing research the old-fashioned way and how respectful to see that Frank refers to his neighbor as Miss Lincoln, instead of by her first name. A priceless detail. Eventually, Frank accompanies Miss Lincoln to Buddy Lamp’s Used Goods to get a copy of a key made; this is where the “mystery” begins as Frank discovers a third key after returning home. Charged with the daunting task of returning to Buddy Lamp’s shop alone to give back the third key, Frank must be fearless enough to handle the puzzle that has landed on his not-so-brave shoulders.
Chris Van Dusen’s black-and-white illustrations rendered in gouache jump off the page with the detailed facial expressions of the different characters which no reader will be able to resist viewing in contemplation.
With Mercy Watson the pig, a star of her own series, appearing in this title as well, children will be delighted to see her join the cast of characters with a significant role. And as for that book of worries to which the reader was first introduced at the beginning of the story, it gets replaced in a manner of sorts by a different one (courtesy of Buddy Lamp), resulting in an unexpected and heartwarming ending that spans the generations between young Frank and his elderly neighbor.
- Reviewed by Freidele Galya Soban Biniashvili