Reviews for Franny Parker

Booklist Reviews 2009 April #1
"Family secrets, light and dark, drive this moving first novel, and the contemporary setting of a small rural community in Oklahoma struggling with drought and dust is always part of the story. Just like her parents, Franny, 12, is an animal lover, and with cages and stalls, she starts a makeshift hospital in the barn for injured birds, turtles, mice, and opossum, as she discovers hurt all around her outside the fence. She makes friends with kind, gorgeous Lucas, who moves into the next-door cabin with his mom, but then she wonders what her neighbors are covering up. Who is the drunk who moves in with them? The local details and characters, including all of Grandma s quilting ladies, sometimes overwhelm the story. But readers will be held by the romance and the mystery next door, the contemporary story with dust-bowl connections, and the family that nurtures small creatures in the burning heat."

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2009 Fall
Franny predicts a quiet summer caring for injured wildlife and practicing quilting. However, the arrival of new neighbors shakes things up. Soon Franny is caught up in her new friend Lucas's attempts to escape his abusive, alcoholic father. At the same time, everyone in their Oklahoma town is dealing with a terrible drought. The well-drawn setting enhances this story of Franny's turbulent summer. Copyright 2009 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2009 May #2
A first-person narration recounts Franny's 13th summer, in a drought-stricken Oklahoma town. Having taken on the care of wild animals in need, she spends much of her time in the family barn nursing baby birds, tiny mice and a broken-shelled turtle. When Lucas Dunn and his mother move in next door, it's quickly obvious they're hiding something, and secrets aren't easy to keep in such a small town. All becomes clear when Lucas's father turns up and resumes his abusive ways. Although she (having fallen for Lucas in a big way) and her parents reach out to the Dunns, as Franny's father says, "It's a strange thing, offering help. Sometimes the people who need it most don't want to take it." It is clear that Franny is recollecting a summer from a few years earlier, and McKinnon's evocative writing is often lovely, offering a more mature perspective than a young teen would have as she sums up the themes of that summer. Believable dialogue and well-developed characters enhance this promising debut novel. (Fiction. 10-14) Copyright Kirkus 2009 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2009 June #4

This quiet debut novel addresses big themes of family, friendship, abuse and love with subtlety and honesty. Life is largely predictable for 12-year-old narrator Franny, who is devoted to her family, friends, animals and small Oklahoma town. But things become complicated one summer, when a single mother and her son move into the cabin across the street. Franny is eager to befriend the new boy, Lucas, who warns her that "sometimes people mean well, but they don't realize what they're getting themselves into." When Lucas's estranged and abusive father shows up, Franny and her family are anxious to help, but Lucas and his mother pull away. The bonds of friendship are tested by secrets, and Franny's family's barn is destroyed in a mysterious fire. In the end, Franny learns that some secrets are worth keeping, while others are too dangerous to stay bottled up. Though a few characters (particularly Franny's five-year-old brother, Ben) occasionally sound overly mature, Franny is a relatable and consistent narrator, the homey rural setting is thoughtfully rendered and the easy prose should appeal to reluctant readers. Ages 10-up. (June)

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School Library Journal Reviews 2009 July

Gr 5-8-Franny, 13, expects this hot, dry summer to be like all the others, but it turns out to be far from expected. Life in her sleepy Oklahoma town is woken up when Lucas Dunn and his mother move into the abandoned cottage next door. Franny's life has been one of lemonade, quilting bees, and normal sibling arguments, and she soon learns that Lucas's family is quite unlike hers. The close-knit town welcomes the Dunn family, enveloping them in their warmth and friendship, but Lucas and his mother seem to be harboring pain and dark secrets. A severe drought threatens many wild animals, and Franny starts her own animal hospital, which soon bursts with creatures in need. When Lucas's alcoholic and abusive father shows up to reclaim his family, Franny is forced to discover many harsh realities in life. As the children's friendship grows, she realizes that there are others besides the animals that are in need, but that giving help to people is often difficult. This debut novel is a poignant, emotional, and beautifully written coming-of-age story.-Michele Shaw, Quail Run Elementary School, San Ramon, CA

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