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Franny Parker

Franny Parker

Franny Parker

Franny has plans for the summer, mostly to take care of all the animals in her barn. Since deciding to open her own Animal Hospital, everybody in town has been delivering hard-up animals on their last leg: abandoned baby mice, a turtle with a broken shell, some opossums and some baby birds.

The summer gets a little more interesting when the new neighbors move in. Lucas is a little older than Franny, and he’s a boy, but he’s interested in her animals and he’s fun to be around.

It’s kind of weird when Lucas and his mom paint over their name on their mailbox. Even weirder is Lucas’s reaction when Franny tells him there was a strange car in his driveway. “When? Who was in it?…What did he say? Did you talk to him?…Why didn’t you tell me Franny?”

The strange car, and the man in it, returns…and life for Lucas and his mom suddenly gets very hard. Franny’s parents try to help, but what do you do if the people you are trying to help say they don’t need any help? And what do you do if you think the people aren’t asking for help because they are too scared? Franny and her family face these tough questions as they try to reach out to Lucas and his mom. Author: Hannah McKinnon

Look Inside Franny Parker

If you liked reading about Franny and Lucas, try one of these stories. Tough things are going on for these kids too. Each one needs a good friend to step in and help them find their way:
Waiting for Normal The Year the Swallows Came Early Umbrella Summer Also Known as Harper
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Escape Under the Forever Sky

Escape Under the Forever Sky

Escape Under the Forever Sky

Thirteen year-old Lucy’s mom is the American Ambassador to Ethiopia. You’d think Lucy’s life would be exciting, exotic and adventure filled. Instead, Lucy lives in the Embassy compound behind walls that separate her from the real Ethiopia. She’s bored! The prospect of a long, hot, boring summer is more than she can stand! Enter her friend Tana who is more than happy to arrange an evening “jail break” when Lucy’s mother is out of town.

The problem? There is a reason for those protective walls around the Embassy compound and one of those reasons snatches Lucy off the street and whisks her far away from everything and everyone she knows.  Lucy finds herself tied up in a scrap-wood shack with nothing but a straw mat, a blanket, a kerosene lamp and a bucket.

Don’t let the cover fool you – this is a tense, breathless survival story that tells Lucy’s tale – how she figured out how to get out of the shack only to find herself lost in the middle of a forbidding jungle and how she uses her wits, her knowledge of the land and animals and her ability to calm herself to think her way out of a worst case scenario. It also helped to have some lions on her side. Yes, lions!

This story could have come right from today’s headlines, and in fact, it did! Escape from the Forever Sky is based on the story of a real 12 year-old girl who was kidnapped in 2005 in Ethopia and managed to escape and save herself, not only from the kidnappers, but from the harsh environment she escaped to. Author: Eve Yohalem

Look Inside Escape From the Forever Sky

In Escape Under the Forever Sky Lucy uses her wits and her outdoor skills to survive. She’s not the only one who can survive a worst-case-scenario in the great outdoors:
Night of the Howling Dogs Hatchet My Side of the Mountain How to Survive in the Wilderness
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43 Old Cemetery Road #1: Dying to Meet You

43 Old Cemetery Road #1: Dying to Meet You

Dying to Meet You

This book doesn’t have any chapters in it. It’s a collection of letters and notes with a few newspaper articles thrown in here and there. You have to figure out who is who and what is going on by reading the letters the characters write to each other and by reading the newspaper articles that report the strange happenings at 43 Old Cemetery Road.

Ignatius B. Grumply is a crabby old author with writer’s block who has rented a creepy old house for the summer. He doesn’t know it, but a boy named Seymour is living on the third floor and a ghost lives in the attic – a bossy old lady ghost.

The old man is none too happy when he discovers the boy. Seymour isn’t too happy about the old man either. The two set up a few house rules to keep things from getting ugly:

Mr. Grumply’s Rules:

  • You will not bother me when I am writing
  • You will stay out of my bedroom and bathroom at all times.
  • You will not lurk in doorways or dark hallways.
  • You are not permitted on the second floor, which I have claimed as my own for the duration of the summer.

Seymour’s Rules:

  • You will not tell me what time I have to go to bed.
  • You will not tell me what to eat or when to eat it.
  • You will not play old man music on the stereo.
  • You’re not allowed on the third floor. No exceptions.

And this begins a tentative agreement to help the two get through the summer without all out war breaking loose. They agree to communicate by letter, which is fine, until the old man shoots some accusations at Seymour that are simply not true. The slamming doors, the loudly playing piano, the falling chandalier – none of that was Seymour, that was the ghost!  Mr. Grumply doesn’t believe a word of it and he isn’t at all interested in having a liar for a housemate.

Read the letters to hear them duke it out in writing – the letters are funny exchanges between these people who don’t care for each other at all…at first! Author: Kate Klise Series: 43 Old Cemetery Road

If you liked Dying to Meet You don’t miss the other 3 in  the 43 Old Cemetery Road series, and when you get done with those, try Billy Bones – he’s another ghost in hiding with a fun family. 
Dying to Meet You Til Death Do Us Bark The Phantom of the Post Office Billy Bones a Tale from the Secret Closet
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all the broken pieces

all the broken pieces

all the broken pieces

In 1975, toward the end of the Vietnam war, many children were airlifted away from the fighting in Vietnam and sent to The United States. Many of the children were orphans, but some of the children were put on the helicopters by their own parents, parents who hoped to keep their children from being hurt in the war.

Can you imagine how sad it would be to have to send your child to strangers in a strange land? And what if you were one of the children? Would you understand if your mom or dad sent you away, even it it was for a good reason?

all the broken pieces is the story of one of these children, Matt Pin, who still has nightmares about the war and carries in his heart a secret he is afraid to tell. It’s a secret he’s even afraid to think about too much.

Matt is 12 now and has loving adoptive parents here in The United States. He goes to school and he plays baseball. He is living the American dream his mother hoped for him when she put him on the helicopter to escape the war. But underneath the dream are Matt’s memories and the memories of what he left behind in Vietnam. These memories are too strong to ignore and too important to keep hidden.

I loved reading this story and watching Matt begin to reveal the pieces of his life he has kept secret. Matt’s story is the kind that makes you cry. Imagining yourself in his shoes, or in his Vietnamese mother’s shoes – that’s really hard. But Matt’s story also makes you feel good because you see the hope and goodness that grew out of a bad thing. That doesn’t mean the War didn’t cause a lot of pain, it just means that people survived the pain and made good things happen as they moved forward. That’s a really hopeful message. Author: Ann E. Burg

Look Inside all the broken pieces

More stories about other kids who lived through the Vietnam War and found their own ways to cope and their own kind of hope for a more peaceful future:
Kaleidoscope Eyes Cracker the Best Dog in Vietnam Shooting the Moon Vietnam War
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The Dragon of Trelian

The Dragon of Trelian

The Dragon of Trelian

Calen is a magician’s apprentice. He runs errands for his mage master and studies his lessons and mostly tries to stay out of trouble. Learning magic isn’t quite as exciting as he hoped though, and frankly, he’s a little bored. He doesn’t want to just READ about magic, he wants to DO magic.

Princess Meglynn is also bored. The life of a princess isn’t as exciting as it might sound either. Meg is so bored, she’s taken to exploring the palace and grounds dressed as a servant girl. While out exploring, Meg stumbles upon a huge secret. It’s so huge Meg isn’t so sure how much longer she can keep it to herself.

The secret? Meg is keeping a baby dragon in a cave outside the palace grounds. The problem? The dragon is a puppy no more. It is growing at an alarming rate and sometime soon, it will be able to breath fire. And there’s something else, something strange about the dragon’s attachment to Meg. Sometimes when she’s in the castle, Meg can feel the dragon in her mind.

Meg figures a magician’s apprentice is just the person to help her figure out this weird attachment she has too her dragon. Calen figures this princess and her dragon is just the thing he needs to stop READING about magic and start DOING magic. What they don’t know, is that while they are spending time in the cave learning about the dragon and experimenting with some magic, there is a murderess traitor inside the palace walls.

The two friends and their dragon are about to get more excitement than any of them ever wished for. They have to learn to trust each other and what they’ve learned about the bonds between friends, even dragon friends, to save each other and the people they love.  Author: Michelle Knudsen

If you like this one, and you like reading about young magician finding his powers, try The Magic Thief. If it’s dragons you like, try The Dragons of Ordinary Farm or Timothy and the Dragon’s Gate or Fablehaven: Secrets of the Dragon Sanctuary.
The Magic Thief Secrets of the Dragon Sanctuary The Dragons of Ordinary Farm Timothy and the Dragon's Gate
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