#aww2020 · 2020 Reviews · children · contemporary fiction · new release

Children’s Book Review: Frankie Pants & Mr Fox by Helen Lear

Title: Frankie Pants & Mr Fox frankie pants small

Author: Helen Lear

Illustrator: Katya Swan

Published: March 1st 2020

Publisher: Little Steps

Pages: 28

Genres:  Children (3+)

RRP: $14.99

By day Frankie is just a lazy cat, but by night he is transformed into Frankie Pants! 

How will this modern-day hero save the neighbourhood from the dastardly devious Mr Fox?


Calling all superheroes! Frankie Pants & Mr Fox is an entertaining and fun picture book creation by Helen Lear. Frankie Pants & Mr Fox is the endearing story of a lazy cat who becomes a heroic saviour for his neighbourhood. Readers will be sure to embrace the charms of dear Frankie the cat and his arch enemy Mr Fox.

Frankie Pants & Mr Fox features an idle cat who loves nothing more than to lay about in the sunshine and catch the breeze. But when the clock strikes twelve, Frankie becomes a super cat. Every night Frankie devotes his time to protecting his neighbourhood from any wrong doings. Frankie is a valiant cat, who will rise up to any challenge, but hot on his tail is sneaky Mr Fox. Frankie puts his all into saving a chicken coop, but Mr Fox is intent on making the chickens his dinner. Can Frankie defeat devious Mr Fox?

I have to confess that I am not a cat person and I actually love foxes. Frankie Pants & Mr Fox presented me with quite a dilemma, as the good guy in this story is Frankie the cat, while the bad guy is clearly Mr Fox. However, by the close of Helen Lear’s captivating children’s book creation, Frankie the cat won me over.

Frankie is a well presented and very colourful character, who will be sure to capture the hearts of everyone, not just cat lovers. Lear does a very good job of outlining her lead. The reader develops a strong attachment to this loveable rogue. As for Mr Fox, Frankie’s foe, he is also presented clearly on the pages of this compelling picture book. Together they jostle to reign supreme and it was enjoyable to follow their duel!

Helen Lear utilises clear and interesting prose, which is directly aimed at the age group in which I was able to read this book aloud to (6 and seven year olds). Through an interactive read aloud experience, we delighted in the rhyming text, which rolled off my tongue with ease and we enjoyed picking out the adjectives in the book together. The variations in text, where particular words are presented in different fonts, colours and size differences helps to accentuate pertinent moments in the story. As a whole the narrative was full of adventure, problems to overcome, funny escapades and heroic achievements to celebrate.

The illustrations of Katya Swan work perfectly to enhance Lear’s engaging prose. The colour palette selected by Swan to accompany this text is very easy on the eye and it works to support the story. Each turn of the page presented a new sense of wonderment, as I looked forward to what each scene would bring to life next. The illustrations burst forth with energy and vitality, making the overall experience of sharing this book pleasurable indeed.

In terms of the themes and messages of the book, I think Frankie Pants & Mr Fox does a good job of sending some important ideas to children in the form of a picture book format. From self-confidence, bravery, inner strength, friendship, kindness, loyalty, protection and active engagement, this is a book that will inspire many young readers.

Let Frankie the super cat entertain you for a reading session as you follow along with his gallant escapades in Helen Lear’s Frankie Pants & Mr Fox. This is a heartwarming tribute to the author’s dearly missed cat who continues to live on through this uplifting adventure tale.

Frankie Pants & Mr Fox by Helen Lear was published on 1st March 2020. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.

*I wish to thank the author for providing me with a free copy of this book for review purposes.

Frankie Pants & Mr Fox is book #32 of the 2020 Australian Women Writers Challenge


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