What's new on children's TV and bookshelves. Eileen Clarke sizes up PBS' ''Franny's Feet'' and Tina Jordan has ''A Dachshund's Wish'' and a teen-oriented cookbook on her plate

By EW Staff
July 06, 2006 at 04:00 AM EDT

What’s new on children’s TV and bookshelves

TV

Franny’s Feet
PBS, debuts July 8; check local listings
Someone must have realized that a girl’s obsession (and weakness for) shoes does indeed start early. For Franny, a pleasant-enough girl with a rather large head, it begins in her grandfather’s shoe repair shop. Each time a pair of shoes is dropped off, Franny decides to try them on for size and ultimately, for adventure. A pair of moccasins takes her to a pow wow where she helps a Native American girl find a ceremonial jingle dress. Other footwear will take her to a fossil dig in Canada, a dragon parade in Chinatown, and a dog sled race in the Arctic. Franny meets each new situation with curiosity and gumption. And while she can verge on downright cutesy (everything is either frantabulous or frantastic), there is something to be said for exposing children to other cultures and scenery, other than the plain old forests and mountains you get with other shows featuring girls with large noggins. We’ll walk with Franny anytime. BEileen Clarke
Recommended ages: 4-7

BOOKS

Sam Stern’s Cooking up a Storm: The Teen Survival Cookbook
Cookbooks like this didn’t exist when I was growing up. I remember being 14 or 15, staring glumly at my battered yellow Betty Crocker spiral cookbook, the one that had served me so well in elementary school. But I didn’t want to make sloppy joes and chocolate-chip cookies anymore, and there wasn’t anything like this around — a photo-heavy paperback that is stuffed with sophisticated and easy-to make recipes: Thai green curry, spaghetti bolognese, guacamole. When I first leafed through it, I was a little skeptical (would kids really make some of this stuff?), but then my 14-year-old appropriated the book, and she and her friends promptly turned out a pretty decent Chinese chicken soup. (Not that I got more than a few spoonfuls.) Since I’m not a chef or a foodie, I hesitate to give Cooking Up A Storm a grade, but it’s definitely got my stamp of approval. —Tina Jordan

A Dachshund’s Wish
By Joe Tavano, illustrated by Ji Yu
What’s it like to be a gamboling, adventurous little dachshund puppy, just freed from the pet store and brought into a loving home? Paws adores his new owners, especially young Jimmy, who dotes on the dog, even surreptitiously feeding him breakfast sausage. Paws idolizes Jimmy so much, in fact, that he’d like to turn into a boy himself, and he’s surprised when the hedgehog in the backyard informs him his wish can come true. A charming, rollicking tale unfolds in this chapter book as Paws meets the various wild animals who live on the property. In the end he learns, of course, that it’s best to be yourself, not someone else. (Author’s note: Anyone who knows me knows my weakness for dachshunds: I have two of them. But I swear I didn’t let my love for the smart, sassy little breed interfere with my critical ability here!) A —TJ
Recommended ages: 8 and up

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