PRT093 – A Vintage Scrapbook Story


What happens if someone writes a novel, but instead of it being a regular novel, the story is told in the form of a vintage scrapbook?

Our special guest, author Caroline Preston wrote “The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt” and come listen as we talk to her about her unique novel.

This is her book:

The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt: A Novel in Pictures

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The Panel


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  • Katie Scott

    Hello Paperclippers: 

    Nancy – its cold over here in St. Pete too & asthma has hit our house; but I’m sort of digging the deep voice on Izzy. 

    There is a trailer on You Tube for the Frankie Pratt Book & it sounds like Frankie was a Project Life kind of girl – the trailer says she did a page a day.  Here’s the link: &   My mother, grandmother & even great grandmothers had scrapbooks like Frankie’s but they didn’t include as much journaling as Frankie’s – I love the typewritten journaling! 

    Listening now – too cool. 

  • Random thought – wondering if the mail and other announcements might ever be pushed to the end of the show with the picks? It just popped in my mind because in this episode, particularly, it was odd to hear a bit about Caroline Preston, then nothing until 20 minutes into the podcast for the topic to continue… maybe it’s just me being impatient. Just a thought…maybe you guys are purposefully teasing us… haha!

  • Ann

    I am a paper scrapbooker, yet I found several comments throughout this podcast about “real” scrapbooking v. digital scrapbooking to be unnecessary.  I realize the guest had put together a book with all the little bits and pieces of other people’s lives and seems to view that as the way she wants to remember her own memories.  Still the subtle dismissal of digi activities as a lower class of the art form to be unfortunate.

  • Katie Scott

    I think maybe the author had gone to a lot of trouble, time and expense and organizing of the actual old stuff and she wanted to relay her efforts – that the stuff was authentic – and that she didn’t alter it for the purpose of her story – rather, she probably altered parts of her story to fit in with the ephemera she was able to find. 

    I doubt the author has any idea about the bizarre conflict in the world of scrapbooking between traditional or digi – I think she just wanted to say the bits and pieces in the album were actually real ephemera not doctored up stuff to fit with what she needed; meaning the project was more difficult for her to accomplish, so I’m guessing she was proud of that. 

    But I sort of hear you on the digi dis – but I don’t think it was intended that way, but I guess could be interpreted that way – but its all love & harmony on Paperclipping – so I’d give it the benefit of the doubt that no one was trying to dis digi.

    P.S.  Is “dis” a real word & is that how you spell it?  Where is the American Dictionary of Slang when you need it.

  • Hi, Ann. I did notice that but didn’t want to say anything — you have to remember she isn’t ingrained in the scrapbooking community and probably isn’t aware of the issues/tension/wishes of digi vs. paper scrapbooking. Her main experience with scrapbooks is with scrapbooks in the original sense where you stick scraps of stuff into a book. You don’t do that at all with digi scrapping, so it makes sense from her point of view to see digi scrapbooking as “memory keeping” instead of “scrapbooking.” From that perspective you could say that of a majority of paper scrapbookers aren’t real scrapbookers but would be more appropriately called memory keepers. (I always liked Ali’s term, Life Artists, because we’re making art around our life memories).

    It’s just a matter of perspective and definitions. As scrapbookers, we’ve changed the definition of scrapbooking and we can’t expect the world outside of our micro-culture to know our definitions.

    So I get what you’re saying and I had the same feeling as you when it happened, but there was so much valuable and interesting stuff to ask her about the book and I didn’t want to get distracted with a discussion about what real scrapbooking is. The Roundtable has worked hard to express inclusiveness of all kinds of scrapbookers so I felt it was okay to overlook a couple comments of one guest who is comes to us from a very different viewpoint and background.

    I hope you understand!

  • Just read your comment after leaving mine — I agree.

    And I totally was saying the word, “dis” in my head as I was reading it, so it worked for me! Dis? Diss? Who knows. I’m sure it’ll say in the Urban Dictionary — you can google it!

  • Barbara

    Just a quick comment about doing 2-page spreads digitally:  I do most of mine that way, as I like both sides of the book to correspond, and I usually have too many photos and too many words for just one page!  There are quite a few template designers who make 24×12 layouts, and they are very easy to work with.  Another quick method is to just make a new document at 24×12, and then add two 12×12 templates, leaving out the background layers.  Easy peasy! 

  • Barbara

    Maybe, too, she was referring to her ephemera being “real”, not made from scratch in Photoshop or in some other program.  Because after all, once the objects and book were photographed, it was all digital, too!

  • Yeah, you might be right!

  • Anonymous

    I loved this interview and can’t wait to get the book. Was even more excited to see it’s available for iPad too for us digi-addict girls. :)

  • Anonymous

    Part way through the mail segment and had to come comment on the two page spread in digi. I have to say doing a digital two page spread and working on one side at a time was a completely foreign concept to me. My albums are full of two page spreads and I always work on them as a 12×24 layout. Most template designers have 12×24 spreads in their shops.  I have adapted a 12×12 template by duplicating all of the layers and flipping them for the other side so each side of the layout is a mirror. When I design my own two page layouts from scratch (without a template) I do it on a 12×24 canvas.

    As far as the digital photography goes, I agree with Nancy and Noell. The amount of photos used and how choosy a scrapper is about their photos, is not determined by digital or paper mediums.

    Back to listening and cleaning :)

  • Honestly, it never occurred to me listening to the conversation that she meant anything other than that the ephemera she used were real antiques and not manufactured digitally to fit her story narrative. 

  • Obviously I have some monkeying around to do to learn a new way to do things…

  • So glad to hear you liked the interview!! It was so fascinating to me!!

  • Thanks, Steph! Clearly we need to get more digi scrappers on the show again. Think I kinda forgot to consciously do that once we started the Digi Show!

  • Anonymous

    Back after listening to the whole show and I LOVED it so much!!  I hope you will have her back when her next book comes out. There were so many gems in this show! It really was fascinating! I especially loved the comparison of media today versus media back then!

    About the digital comment; my first reaction was to gasp inside my head…but then immediately I thought: “Wait she has a different frame of reference than me and it’s not meant to be offensive!” She is a sweet lady that is so passionate about what she does and passionate about memory keeping and documenting life! How can anyone be offended at that? Relax digi peeps, it’s all good!

    Off to download the book on my iPad!

  • :)

    Thanks for your comment, Steph!!

  • RonnieTexas

    Thanks Steph for commenting. People must of thought I was mad when I was running and talking to Nancy telling her exactly this. I highly recommend Yin templates for 2 page layouts and there are some great action which split your two page layouts into two separate pages for you. I have always loved two page spreads and this hasn’t changed since I went digital. Even with single page template you can turn them into two page spreads easily its no different than you would do with sketches in the paper world. Find the two templates you want to work with and just open then. I work with the two templates in tiled windows so I can see them together while I create. Nancy you should give it a try it really isn’t any harder than single pages.

  • Amy

    Yup- there are ways to make 2 paging digi style easier- you can also have the two windows of the pages open side by side. I do it both ways- sometimes I duplicate (and often group in CS) into one page and other times I don’t. I think a lot of goes to the original two page conversations- if I want to cross the center line or if one page will be photo heavy and the other more journaling.

    I do more 1 page in part I would think its because I scrapbook smaller moments most often. The different right side vs left side soesn’t bother me- I use three ring binders so there is a gap (made me wonder how that has influenced the one vs two page trends since not everyone is using post bound). I also mix sizes and sometimes a two page spread isn’t 24×12

  • Caroline Preston

    Hi there,

    I was fascinated in reading the comments about the roundtable and surprised that I might have offended any one when I said The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt was not a digital scrapbook.  If anything, I was poking fun at my own technical ignorance.  I simply do not have the expertise to recreate a 1920’s scrapbook digitally (although I did try).  I found that I had to make it the old-fashioned way– with vintage ephemera that I cut up with scissors and pasted together with glue– to make it look authentic. Then I turned the reproduction of those pages over to my publisher at Harper Collins.

    But the process of making Frankie Pratt was ridiculously complicated and laborious, especially when I had to revise and edit. For my next scrapbook novel, I will still use original ephemera but will be exploring how best to incorporate digital scrapbooking techniques.  Any suggestions?

    Many thanks to Noell and Nancy for inviting me on the show and for all your great questions.  And again– I apologize if I seemed dismissive about anything.  As someone who has collected vintage scrapbooks for 40 years, I know they come in every shape and size, and that the format is constantly evolving– that is part of their charm.

    All best,

    Caroline Preston

  • Thanks for popping in, Caroline! Some digital scrapbookers have been snubbed by paper scrapbookers, so there’s definitely a sensitivity among many digital scrapbookers. You cleared it up really nicely. :)

  • Hey, Ann — Caroline came in and explained what she meant and I think you’ll appreciate her comment. It’s not a direct reply to you, it’s just lower down in the comments, so I wanted to point it out to ya!

    Just a note to everyone — I loved this episode and I was really excited to see what awesome insights the audience would have — but so far it seems we’re distracted by the “real scrapbooking” issue. I would love to hear people thoughts on the actual topic! Please share!


  • Anonymous

    What a fun and thought-provoking episode.  Just this morning I was going through my emails, and saw that Blurb can now make a book from your Facebook posts.  This show got me thinking how fun it would be to make one with additional blank pages to paste in your ephemera. I would need my teenager’s help: having them put in their password, getting their “stuff”.  However – it would be great if they got inspired and made it themselves :-P.

  • Caroline Preston

    Ecco is offering as of today a holiday giveaway for The Scrabook of Frankie Pratt!

  • I just want to clarify about my comment.

    I wasn’t saying that it isn’t possible to to create 2 page layouts in digi, just that I find it too difficult. It is too small on the screen when I look at the whole layout. When I said we are more choosy with our photos I meant in general, digi or paper. You had talked about how we used to put every photo we took on our pages because we didn’t have that many. Now we have too many to reasonably put them all in our albums.

  • Mary-Kay

    Can anyone tell me how I can read this on my iPad? The link is for Amazon and it’s not made for the Kindle. Is it in iBooks? I’ll check there… Anywhere else?


  • Mary-Kay Tilden

    I just answered my own question. I found it in iBooks.  It’s downloading now! Yea!!!

  • Brenda_joy_wilson

    I’m enjoying listening to your show and have a quick comment about today’s eposide’s mail comment about tendancy to create only single page digital layouts (with fewer photos). When I’m working on digital scrapbook layouts, I still often make 2 page layouts using a 24×12 canvas (tip from Anna Aspnes). Once I’ve saved the image as a 24×12 JPEG, I simply copy it into a 12×12 canvas and save it again twice, once with the left-hand side and once with the right-hand side. Anna had also provided a tip on her blog about creating such layouts at She actually recommends creating it as a 24.5-12.25 to allow for a bit of print bleed. This permits me to include lots of photos on my digital layouts. Also, if you do create them as 2 12×12 layouts, it is possible to have them both open simultaneously (I have a nice big screen my husband bought me our anniversary); you just need to use the multiple windows open option in top right hand corner (by the minimize/maximize icons).

    Brenda Wilson (Ottawa, Canada)

  • Wow I just loved this episode!

  • Agree! I loved it, too. Since Noel writes fiction, herself, AND scrapbooks, I thought the questions were wonderful. I really enjoyed hearing Caroline talk about the what was going on historically at that time and how the ephemera of the times can capture that. It’s a huge message for all of us scrapbookers as to how important context on a page is. 

  • I’m a digi scrapper and never it took the words as critical. Rather, it’s wonderful to understand that all of these bits from 90 years ago can be gathered in hard copy.

  • Context Yes!!

  • Diane C

    Great episode. I had bought this book when I saw it featured in my local bookstore but then kind of forgot about it. After this episode I took it off my “to be read” shelf and am now about half way through. I just love it on so many levels. I would love for the author to come back even before her next book to talk about her process for collecting and organizing some more and maybe about her research. As someone who just inherited several giant boxes of unmarked photos and ephemera from my mom, Caroline Preston has inspired me to try to put together some stories in an old fashioned scrapbook style. 

  • ErinK.

    Have to be honest and say that when I first heard the topic of the show I was not excited…however I should no better than to doubt the PRT crew…amazing show.  I would like to say thanks for exposing me to something new.  I can’t wait to read ALL of these books.  I love history (am sure that is why I am so in love with the thought of future generations knowing all of the everyday stuff of my life) am SUPER excited to explore these books!  Thanks Noell, Izzy, Nancy and Caroline!

  • Awesome!!

  • Candy Risher

    I had to pop in with a bit of a different perspective on the digital 2-page question. I started off as a paper scrapper and I only made 2-page layout and I crammed as many pictures onto those two pages as I could. The simple reason being that I had very little money to spend on supplies so the idea of using multiple pieces of paper and embellishments for one photo?!? It would have felt wasteful to me although I adored the look in magazines.

    Now in digi I have that freedom because the paper and embellishments never get used up. If I want to make a one photo layout I can and never worry about the cost of replacing all of those supplies. I feel like digi gave me the freedom to be choosy about what pictures I scrap (no printed photos left over mocking me) and how many layouts I make.

    Thanks for an awesome show!

  • Jersey Girl Anne

    It is the day after Christmas and my daughter got me The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt as a gift. I leafed through it  yesterday and cannot wait to start reading it tonight! I will then share it with my mother who can relate to this story because of her age. Thank you for this episode to enlighten us on good books as well as actual scrapbook subjects!