An Orange for Frankie

Last updated Monday, November 30, 2015

Author: Patricia Polacco
Date of Publication: 2004
ISBN: 039924302X
Grade Level: 4th    (GLCs: Click here for grade level guidelines.)
Date(s) Used: Dec. 2015

Synopsis: The Stowell family is abuzz with holiday excitement, and Frankie, the youngest boy, is the most excited of all. But there's a cloud over the joyous season: Tomorrow is Christmas Eve, and Pa hasn't returned yet from his trip to Lansing. He promised to bring back the oranges for the mantelpiece. Every year there are nine of them nestled among the evergreens, one for each of the children. But this year, heavy snows might mean no oranges . . . and, worse, no Pa!

This is a holiday story close to Patricia Polacco's heart. Frankie was her grandmother's youngest brother, and every year she and her family remember this tale of a little boy who learned--and taught--an important lesson about giving, one Christmas long ago.

Note to readers:
•  lots of "old" language - both terms and phrases
•  read up to when Frankie gives red sweater to hobo then skip 9 pages and resume at "There, doesn't that look grand!"

Discussion topics for before reading:
•  What are special traditions or practices your family does for Christmas?
•  How do you feel when you share or give something to someone else?
•  What are some of the special songs you sing on Christmas?


•  Hobos: homeless poor person
•  Pageant: contest or show
•  Spectacles: eye glasses
•  Soapstones: stones one heats to hold the heat; they get wrapped and the heat radiates out
•  Pungent: strong, usually refers to a strong smell

Discussion topics for during/after reading:
•  How did Frankie feel when he kept secrets from his parents?
•  How important do you think it is to tell the truth? Why?
•  What did their oranges tradition remind you of?

Craft ideas:
•  Make a 3-D origami orange. See instructions on link (to make oranges Instead of pumpkins, make 7", 9", 11", 9", 7" strips of paper).
•  Make an "orange garland". Cut out lots of circles from orange paper & attach to both sides of string. (see picture on Pinterest)
•  Make orange wedge gift tags. (see picture on Pinterest)
•  Draw a winter scene on dark blue or black paper using white chalk for snow.
•  Check out our December craft ideas on Pinterest!

Special activities:
•  Sing a favorite Christmas song - English or Spanish

*Note: These craft ideas are just suggestions. You can use them, but you don’t have to use them. You can expand upon them, or add your own twist. Remember, though, that the focus of your time should not be on the development and execution of a craft; the focus should be on the read-aloud and the enjoyment of the book!