________________ CM . . . . Volume I Number 13 . . . . September 8, 1995

Frankie Zapper and the Disappearing Teacher

Linda Rogers. Illustrated by Rick Van Krugel.
Vancouver: Ronsdale Press, 1994. 119pp, paper, $7.95.
ISBN 0-921870-27-2

Grades 3 - 6 / Ages 8 - 11.
Review by Harriet Zaidman.


It made Mr. Smith furious when Frankie took on his daydreams. He even tried shutting the curtains, but Zapper could see through cloth. He could dream his way through metal. When they talked about the Iron Curtain in Social Studies, Odie looked at Frankie, glassy-eyed and lost in his thought, and he knew he could cut through anything, like a diamond drill or a singer with a high squeaky voice.

Frankie Zapper (so named because of his ability to zap spit-balls) has a talent that only his best friends, Jen and Odie, know about: he can make wishes come true. Magic happens when Frankie starts to dream. But Frankie is plagued by mean-spirited, cruel Mr. Smith, a home-room teacher with no heart or sense of humour. Mr. Smith is every child's worst nightmare, and he especially doesn't like dreamers or philosophers like Frankie. The plot thickens when Frankie reveals his magic talent before his whole class by wishing Mr. Smith would disappear - and he does. Mr. Smith is turned into a parrot ( a nasty one at that).

Because they all hated Mr. Smith, the whole class is implicated, so they all have to participate in the cover-up. The principal is confused, the substitutes are driven crazy, and then . . . Mr. Smith flies out the window! Does the class get him back? Can Frankie's magic solve the case?

This is a fun fiction book for students who read everything, and for students who only like to read humour. What sets it apart from other books is that the protagonist is a First Nations character. While Frankie fits a few stereotypes (he comes from a poor family, he has a mystical air about him . . . ), he also is an ordinary boy with caucasian friends. But the humorous plot is the issue, and Frankie is a character who is able to find the solution, and his mystical talents are the catalyst for solving (and creating) the problem. Rogers' story involves children from different backgrounds, and while she explains their situations (Jen and Odie each have their own special problems), she doesn't let them overtake the plot.

The pen and ink drawings are appealing. This book would be a good read-aloud for a class, as well as a supplemental book in a reading collection.


Harriet Zaidman is a teacher-librarian at Niakwa Place School in Winnipeg.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364