Synopses & Reviews
This gem of a novel takes place in Pittsburgh in 1952. Franny Katzenback, while recovering from polio, reads and falls in love with the brand-new book Charlotte’s Web
. Bored and lonely and yearning for a Charlotte of her own, Franny starts up a correspondence with an eloquent flea named Fleabrain who lives on her dog’s tail. While Franny struggles with physical therapy and feeling left out of her formerly active neighborhood life, Fleabrain is there to take her on adventures based on his extensive reading. It’s a touching, funny story set in the recent past, told with Rocklin’s signature wit and thoughtfulness.
Bank Street Children's Books "Best Books of the Year," Fiction Ages 9-12
Sydney Taylor Notable Book for Older Readers
Praise for Fleabrain Loves Franny
"Heartwarming and endlessly funny, Fleabrain Loves Franny will delight readers of all ages. Rocklin’s sharp wit and exuberant writing style are refreshing. This book is not to be missed."
"Franny—a compassionate, thoughtful and sympathetic protagonist—is believably erratic in her emotions and reflections on her illness and its effects on her previously carefree life."
"Rocklin perfectly captures the era of 1952 and creates a sympathetic, realistic character in Franny, who begins to accept her condition, rejoin her friends and even protest her school’s inaccessibility."
"Comedic and philosophical, readers will find multiple levels to enjoy."
--School Library Journal
"Williams-Garcia (Jumped) evokes the close-knit bond between three sisters, and the fervor and tumultuousness of the late 1960s, in this period novel featuring an outspoken 11-year-old from Brooklyn, N.Y. Through lively first-person narrative, readers meet Delphine, whose father sends her and her two younger sisters to Oakland, Calif., to visit their estranged mother, Cecile. When Cecile picks them up at the airport, she is as unconventional as Delphine remembers ('There was something uncommon about Cecile. Eyes glommed onto her. Tall, dark brown woman in man's pants whose face was half hidden by a scarf, hat, and big dark shades. She was like a colored movie star'). Instead of taking her children to Disneyland as they had hoped, Cecile shoos them off to the neighborhood People's Center, run by members of the Black Panthers. Delphine doesn't buy into all of the group's ideas, but she does come to understand her mother a little better over the summer. Delphine's growing awareness of injustice on a personal and universal level is smoothly woven into the story in poetic language that will stimulate and move readers. Ages 9 12." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Regimented, responsible, strong-willed Delphine narrates in an unforgettable voice, but each of the sisters emerges as a distinct, memorable character, whose hard-won, tenuous connections with their mother build to an aching, triumphant conclusion." Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)
“The setting and time period are as vividly realized as the characters, and readers will want to know more about Delphine and her sisters after they return to Brooklyn...” Horn Book (starred review)
“Delphines growing awareness of injustice on a personal and universal level is smoothly woven into the story in poetic language that will stimulate and move readers.” Publishers Weekly
“Emotionally challenging and beautifully written, this book immerses readers in a time and place and raises difficult questions of cultural and ethnic identity and personal responsibility. With memorable characters (all three girls have engaging, strong voices) and a powerful story, this is a book well worth reading and rereading.” School Library Journal (starred review)
“In One Crazy Summer Williams-Garcia presents a childs-eye view of the Black Panther movement within a powerful and affecting story of sisterhood and motherhood. Monica Edinger, The New York Times
“Delphine is the pitch-perfect older sister, wise beyond her years, an expert at handling her siblings...while the girls are caught up in the difficulties of adults, their resilience is celebrated and energetically told with writing that snaps off the page” Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
"Though good family-in-transition stories are not rare, ones that authentically portray an African American experience are, and readers will find this one pretty near perfect."
"Harris weaves humor, a light mystery, and a tender coming-of-age story in this unforgettable novel."
—School Library Journal
"Readers will find sly humor here as well as the pleasure of seeing justice done on several levels. A satisfying first novel with a realistic but heartening ending."
"The small-town dynamics draw on recognizable characters without becoming stereotypes; Great-Aunt Grace, for instance, is full of surprises. Treasure herself is a resourceful and mature sixth-grader who stands up for herself and earns the well-deserved respect of the adults in her life."
"With 'Fleabrain Loves Franny,' Joanne Rocklin has brought into being perhaps the tiniest and most accomplished hero yet: a dashing, erudite, multilingual flea"
"Convincingly set in Pittsburgh in the early 1950s, when scientists were working on a polio vaccine, and attitudes toward people with disabilities were quite different from today’s, Rocklin’s story is a conscious homage to Charlotte’s Web, many a voracious reader’s favorite book."
"With keen insight into human (and insect) relations, Rocklin creates believable, three-dimensional characters—Franny’s goody-two-shoes older sister, for example, and Franny’s old gang of friends, fearful of contagion—that help anchor the off-the-wall-fantastical elements."
"A good choice for kids who like their history with a sprinkling of whimsy."
"This book is smart, funny, and very odd; it’s a love letter to reading and to the life-saving power of imagination."
"Strong characterization will make this story a favorite, and the smart, funny writing will attract readers."
* “Violets a bright, engaging biracial preteen. . . . Infused with humor, hope and cleareyed compassion—a fresh take on an old paradigm.” — Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW
“Woods deftly raises complex issues of race and identity and leaves them open for discussion: whether race matters, what makes a family, how it feels to be different, and what it means to be biracial. ‘To white people, Violet thinks, ‘Im half black. To black people, Im half white. . . . Is that what I am, a percentage?" — Publishers Weekly
“Violet is a winning protagonist, full of questions and full of hope. Shes believably complex. . . . Her self-conscious reflections enable readers to parse the symbolism behind her name and see how her experiences are helping her grow into a person who fits it—a sometimes shy, sometimes sparkly and strong person to whom many readers will relate.” — The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
“Violets charming quirks, which include nighttime wishing rituals and keeping a mental catalogue of sophisticated vocabulary words, prove endearing. . . . Admirably touches upon profound issues related to identity and race and tenderly conveys intergenerational bonds.”
“Drama abounds as family secrets are revealed. As usual, Brenda Woods characters are interesting and realistic. Everyone will find someone to identify with. This ‘biracial novel covers the subject with sensitivity, realism, and accuracy which not many books do.”
Eleven-year-old Delphine has it together. Even though her mother, Cecile, abandoned her and her younger sisters, Vonetta and Fern, seven years ago. Even though her father and Big Ma will send them from Brooklyn to Oakland, California, to stay with Cecile for the summer. And even though Delphine will have to take care of her sisters, as usual, and learn the truth about the missing pieces of the past.
When the girls arrive in Oakland in the summer of 1968, Cecile wants nothing to do with them. She makes them eat Chinese takeout dinners, forbids them to enter her kitchen, and never explains the strange visitors with Afros and black berets who knock on her door. Rather than spend time with them, Cecile sends Delphine, Vonetta, and Fern to a summer camp sponsored by a revolutionary group, the Black Panthers, where the girls get a radical new education.
Set during one of the most tumultuous years in recent American history, One Crazy Summer is the heartbreaking, funny tale of three girls in search of the mother who abandoned them — an unforgettable story told by a distinguished author of books for children and teens, Rita Williams-Garcia.
Coretta Scott King Honor winner Brenda Woods moving, uplifting story of a girl finally meeting the African American side of her family explores racism and how it feels to be biracial, and celebrates families of all kinds.
Violet is a smart, funny, brown-eyed, brown-haired girl in a family of blonds. Her mom is white, and her dad, who died before she was born, was black. She attends a mostly white school where she sometimes feels like a brown leaf on a pile of snow. Shes tired of people asking if shes adopted. Now that Violets eleven, she decides its time to learn about her African American heritage. And despite getting off to a rocky start trying to reclaim her dads side of the family, she can feel her confidence growing as the puzzle pieces of her life finally start coming together. Readers will cheer for Violet, sharing her joy as she discovers her roots.
In this Newbery Honor novel, New York Times
bestselling author Rita Williams-Garcia tells the story of three sisters who travel to Oakland, California, in 1968 to meet the mother who abandoned them.
Eleven-year-old Delphine is like a mother to her two younger sisters, Vonetta and Fern. She's had to be, ever since their mother, Cecile, left them seven years ago for a radical new life in California. When they arrive from Brooklyn to spend the summer with her, Cecile is nothing like they imagined. While the girls hope to go to Disneyland and meet Tinker Bell, their mother sends them to a day camp run by the Black Panthers. Unexpectedly, Delphine, Vonetta, and Fern learn much about their family, their country, and themselves during one truly crazy summer.
This moving, funny novel won the Scott O'Dell Award for Historical Fiction and the Coretta Scott King Award and was a National Book Award Finalist.
Readers who enjoy Christopher Paul Curtis's The Watsons Go to Birmingham will find much to love in One Crazy Summer. Delphine, Vonetta, and Fern's story continues in P.S. Be Eleven.
Supports the Common Core State Standards
When Treasure's dad disappears and Mom sets out to track him down, twelve-year-old Treasure and her little sister Tiffany are stuck with their Great-Aunt Grace, whose many rules make for a miserable living situation. As time stretches on and Dad doesn't turn up, Treasure, Tiffany, and their mother have to accept that he isn't coming back. It's Great-Aunt Grace who takes them in, and together they learn that their unconventional family can be just as whole without him.
Treasures dad has disappeared and her mom sets out to track him down, leaving twelve-year-old Treasure and her little sister, Tiffany, in small-town Virginia with their eccentric, dictatorial Great-Aunt Grace. GAG (as the girls refer to her) is a terrible cook, she sets off Treasures asthma with her cat and her chain smoking, and her neighbors suspect her in the recent jewel thefts. As the hope of finding their dad fades, the girls and their great-aunt begin to understand and accommodate one another. When a final dash to their dads last known address proves unsuccessful, Treasure has to accept that hes gone for good. When she goes back to Great-Aunt Graces, it is the first time she has returned to a place instead of just moving on. Convincing, fully realized characters, a snarky narrative voice, and laugh-aloud funny dialogue make The Perfect Place a standout among stories of adjustment and reconfigured families.
In this middle grade novel-in-verse by the Newbery Medal-winning and Coretta Scott King Honor Award-winning author of The Crossover, a twelve-year-old, soccer-loving boy named Nick, absolutely hates books. In Kwame Alexander's latest poetic tour de force, it's books versus soccer balls in a match-up you won't want to miss!
About the Author
Rita Williams-Garcia's Newbery Honor-winning novel, One Crazy Summer, was a winner of the Coretta Scott King Award, a National Book Award finalist, the recipient of the Scott O'Dell Award for Historical Fiction, and a New York Times bestseller. The sequel, P.S. Be Eleven, was also a Coretta Scott King Award winner and an ALA Notable Children's Book for Middle Readers. She is also the author of six distinguished novels for young adults: Jumped, a National Book Award finalist; No Laughter Here, Every Time a Rainbow Dies (a Publishers Weekly Best Children's Book), and Fast Talk on a Slow Track (all ALA Best Books for Young Adults); Blue Tights; and Like Sisters on the Homefront, a Coretta Scott King Honor Book. Rita Williams-Garcia lives in Jamaica, New York, is on the faculty at the Vermont College of Fine Arts in the Writing for Children & Young Adults Program, and has two adult daughters, Stephanie and Michelle, and a son-in-law, Adam.