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Alumni News

Franklin the Turtle Turns 25

May 27, 2011

Brenda Clark (Illustration ’77)Brenda Clark (Illustration ’77) is celebrating 25 years as the illustrator of the hugely successful Franklin the Turtle children’s book series. Brenda has illustrated 34 Franklin titles based on the characters created by her and author Paulette Bourgeois. Over the years, the Franklin brand has expanded into e-books, DVDs, clothes, toys and a TV series. Since 2005, families have enjoyed The Franklin Children’s Garden, an interactive park on Toronto’s Centre Island containing child-accessible bronze statues of characters from the series. Earlier this year, a collector’s edition of the first title, Franklin in the Dark, was published by Kids Can Press, and a new 3D TV series was launched on Treehouse. 

Franklin began as just one story which resonated with so many people that Brenda and Paulette were inspired to create more. The series grew slowly at first, with only one book published every two years. After Scholastic Inc. included the titles in their school book clubs in 1994, the demand grew significantly. “Once the series expanded to TV, the rest of the world really came to know and love Franklin,” says Brenda. 

Today, a whole new generation of families is watching and coming back to the books, she adds. “It doesn’t really seem like 25 years have gone by, but often young parents at book signings will tell us how much they loved Franklin when they were growing up. That makes us realize how long it’s been since he made his first appearance.” 

Franklin the TurtleOver the years, the stories have centred on many themes, including community-minded issues and the environment as well as every day life experiences that most children can relate to. “Also, the carefully researched details in the illustrations provide endless topics for curious minds, sparking interaction with parents or teachers,” Brenda explains. 

In addition to the Franklin titles, Brenda has illustrated eight other picture books. She has eagerly endorsed Sheridan’s illustration program as the best in the country and credits the college with giving her the full set of skills that enabled her to find employment within weeks of graduation. An ongoing student scholarship supporter, Brenda has increased her donations in each of the past three years.