Reviews of Francine's Day
"Comfort-loving Francine does not want to get out of bed, get dressed, and eat her breakfast, but mostly, she does not want to go to school. The text features gentle repetitions of what Francine does not want to do followed by compelling reasons to do them; the familiar clink of dishes pulls her out of bed, and the chill morning air forces her into her warm clothes. Once at school, the rhythm of the text changes, and she thinks of the things she does want to do—home things, like picnics with her mom and art projects on the porch instead of sitting at the art table. In the end, just as she has taken her thoughts of home with her to school, she brings school home, reciting a poem for her mother and singing her school songs for her stuffed animals. Francine, a reddish-brown fox with a white face and pin-dot eyes, is easily recognizable as a shy, home-loving preschooler who is not quite ready to be forced into new routines. There are no amazing changes in attitude here; Francine doesn't so much change her mind or her behavior as she quietly learns ot accept the intrusion of school into her day. The illustrations, like the text, have an unfussy reasonableness to them, with sepia crosshatching to gentle the already subtle colors, and chunky figures that exude mammalian warmth. . . the book will go a long way toward damping down back-to-school anxieties."
– The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
"Francine the fox doesn't want to get out of bed, go to school or do anything else. But nudges from her mother and her teacher propel her through the day's agenda ("She did not want to sit at the snack table, but Mr. Wendell pulled out a chair and set her a place"). By not pursuing any deeper meanings in Francine's contrariness, Alter (Estelle and Lucy) makes an important point: it's normal to have a bad day now and then, and no day is totally beyond redemption. Accordingly, the adults here do not feel obliged to cajole their charge out of her mood—and the effectiveness of their approach can be seen in the illustrations. For example, Francine does not want to go (to) the playground at school, but when Mr. Wendell simply reassures her that it is almost time to go home, the accompanying illustration shows Francine approaching a classmate on the merry-go-round. In the first pages, Alter's somber, crosshatched watercolors may seem emotionally distant; as the story unfolds, however, the style beautifully expresses both Francine's reluctance to engage in the world, and the small but important connections she makes as the day progresses. When Francine steps off the bus and into her mother's arms, the wordless full-bleed spread makes a poignant statement about how tough it is to shake a bad mood—and the relief that comes when one finally does."
– Publishers Weekly