Frank and Ernest


Written and Illustrated by Alexandra Day

Scholastic, 1988

Need help? Do you need a vacation, or to respond to a family emergency, but don’t know how you could leave your small business or store? We’ll take care of it for you! We don’t know everything, but we’re willing to learn and to work hard. Call Frank and Ernest at Belmont 2671.

The plot in a nutshell: Two friends take over a diner for three days

When Frank and Ernest are hired to run a diner for a few days, they take the time to learn everything they can about diner operations, particularly the terminology, before they start. The first customer orders a hamburger with lettuce, onion and tomato. Ernest tells Frank to “burn one, take it through the garden, and pin a rose on it.” This continues over the next three days, with Ernest taking orders and relating them to Frank in diner lingo. When Mrs. Miller returns, she tells the friends that the diner looks wonderful and she’s heard good feedback from all her friends. She praises their work and tells them she’ll recommend them to others.

I hope he didn't touch that with his trunk.

I hope he didn’t touch that with his trunk.

Author/illustrator Alexandra Day is best known for her Carl series, featuring illustrated stories about Carl the Rottweiler. Here, the story focuses on a bear (Frank) and an elephant (Ernest) who advertise that they will step in a take care of any business while the owner is away. Frank and Ernest dress and behave like people in this book and Ms. Day shows us that they love rising to challenges and learning all they can about whatever business they are taking on. You can also tell that they are really having fun using all this lingo and that’s probably what your young reader will enjoy the most. You’ll find a glossary of common diner terminology on the book’s endpapers.

The artwork is lovely, with lots of eye-catching details both in the diner and in the office they appear to share, which is covered with shelves of books, presumably for research on each new business venture they undertake. Frank and Ernest appear in two sequels, in which they become truck drivers and baseball team managers. Each of these jobs has its own lingo as well, and I’m sure they show up for these assignments ready to talk the talk.

And what did we learn? What I take away from this book is that you can rise to any challenge with a good attitude, an open mind and lots of research.


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