Friday, May 18, 2012 |
First aired on Calgary Eyeopener (17/15/12)
Twenty-six years since the release of the first book by Paulette Bourgeois and Brenda Clark, Franklin the Turtle is now gracing a limited edition stamp, joining the likes of Dr. Frederick Banting, Alexander Graham Bell, Emily Carr and Margaret Laurence. What makes Franklin stand out, however, is that he's the first animated character to earn this honour.
Seem odd? Perhaps. But once you consider that Franklin is a star in more than 38 countries, shares a booking agent with Randy Bachman, Tom Jackson and Tegan & Sara, and has sold 65 million books in more than 24 languages, it's hard to deny that Franklin is a star. A big one. In fact, Franklin the Turtle is the most successful franchise in Canadian literary history.
However, Franklin's star isn't shining as brightly as it once was. CBC's Chris della Torre checked in with those who are frequently around preschoolers to see if he's as loved today in Canada as he was in the 1990s, the Franklin the Turtle heyday. What he discovered was that Franklin may evoke warm and fuzzy feelings in Canadian families, but he doesn't have the rock star power of newer, trendier characters like Dora the Explorer.
Jocelyn Hamilton, vice-president of original programming at Corus Entertainment, isn't concerned. Franklin has stood the test of time and she believes he will continue to do so. The Canada Post stamp is a testament to that. "It's an evergreen property," she explained to della Torre. "Those types of stories can live on, no matter what generation."
Plenty of people agree with Hamilton, including preschool teacher Kate Eldstrom. Eldstrom and her students enjoy Franklin because of the realistic problems Franklin faces. "One the episode I just watched with my daughter, he was on his way to a birthday party, he gets stopped by a friend and ends up being late. So there's a lesson, and it could happen."
In a way, it's Franklin's quiet persistence that makes him a Canadian icon worthy of such an honour. He's humble, polite and reliable. He's not flashy. He quietly chugs along, telling stories about the importance of traits like patience, politeness and good hygiene for kids and kids at heart.
This is why Canada Post spokesperson Anick Losier says the stamp is a fitting tribute to the character's success. "If you look at the values that Franklin brings in every single book that you read, it reflects well what we're trying to say, not only about Canada Post, but Canada as a country," she said. "This is Canadiana, and that's what you can find throughout any stamp we produce. A little piece of Canada that you can own for 61 cents."