Frankie Pickle is a boy with a huge imagination. One day, during his math test, Frankie’s fantastic imagination gets away from him and suddenly he finds himself being attacked by the numbers on his test, who have turned in to the warriors of a land called Arithmecca! Just as Frankie is about to be eaten by Omnipuss, the terrfying leader of the number monsters, Frankie’s teacher, Miss Gordon, announces the time for the quiz is over. All Frankie has on his paper are the number monsters he has drawn all over the page. The next day, Miss Gordon passes the tests back and takes Frankie aside. She gives him one more chance to pass the quiz. Frankie is planning to study all weekend, but his family and friends keep distracting him with card games, grocery store trips, and baking cupcakes. How will Frankie pass the test now?
Frankie Pickle is one of my favorite children’s comic book characters. He’s adorable, smart, and incredibly creative. He gets along well with his family and genuinely wants to do well in school. It’s not his fault everyone keeps stopping him from studying or that, when he does try, the numbers keep turning into monsters that want to eat him. Frankie’s imagination is what makes these books worth reading. He turns a fun card game with his friend into something resembling a fight in the Tron grid. He imagines his dog Argyle, one of my favorite parts of the book, into a wizard who helps him fight numbers, and he makes baking cupcakes with his dad into a magic spell. This book is just good fun.
While there is little multi-dimensional character development of the other characters, we get to know Frankie’s friends and family through how he imagines them. His sister is sporty and bossy, his mom is kind and clever, and his dad is a magician with a wooden spoon. Argyle the dog is my favorite character. He does not appear much in the actual text of the story, but Wight’s drawings of his expressions make Argyle fun to watch. He is usually loyally following Frankie into his imagination, but looking terrified about the whole endeavor.
Wight’s illustration style works well with the text to reveal the story and the characters. The illustrations are used mostly for Frankie’s imagination, showing the transformation from the real to the imagined with thick black lines that create really vibrant scenes. Wight uses striking angles, making the book feel very energetic, exactly the way I would describe Frankie. The artwork feels like Frankie created it. While the illustrations are scattered throughout, instead of being on every page, the scenes Wight chooses to draw add a lot of life to the story and helped me get a much better idea of who Frankie was.
This book was a lot of fun to read. While the overall story line was pretty easy to figure out from the beginning, Frankie’s imagination brings excitement to every page. Kids will love this book and not even mind that they are getting a bit of a math lesson, too.
Frankie Pickle and the Mathematical Menace (Frankie Pickle, book 3)
by Eric Wight
Simon and Schuster, 2011
Publisher Age Rating: 7-10