“Listen, Frans, we all make it to the other side. And we’re better for the experience. I know middle school can be trying at times. You just need to figure out a strategy for survival.” (Karma Bites, Kramer & Thomas)
Words of wisdom to live by, spoken by Franny Flanders’ Granny. Think back to the time when you were in middle school. What thoughts, memories, experiences, and nightmares of middle school do you conjure up? Was it a time when you just quite didn’t know where you fit in with a particular group of kids? Were you constantly trying to “find yourself?” Thinking back to my days in junior high I experienced enjoyable times and moments of anguish. In the new book Karma Bites, by Stacy Kramer and Valerie Thomas, Franny Flanders experiences many of the normal timeless middle school drama but also some out of the ordinary occurrences!
Franny is beginning her seventh-grade year. Her parents have decided to call it quits and she’s having a difficult time getting used to the situation. Her two best friends, Joey and Kate don’t associate with one another. Remember cliques and groups from middle school? Well, Joey is a “peak” which is the popular group and Kate is a “beek” which is a combination of a geek and a band member. Franny falls somewhere in-between, she’s a floater. She finds herself in somewhat of a state of limbo going back and forth between the two respective groups. To add to the mix for Franny, her hippie and unconventional Granny has moved in with Franny and her mother. Granny is quite the character! She’s into astrology, thinks she’s been reincarnated, and – she’s into magic!! Who wouldn’t want to be Granny’s grandchild?!
On Franny’s first day of seventh-grade, Franny decides to dye her hair blond because of course, “blondes have more fun!” A quagmire of problems ensues because of this. Her hair doesn’t turn blonde but orange! Her mother who’s a writer is having writer’s block and is completely indisposed. Who else can she turn to? Granny! What’s the remedy? “Fix-It Formula” from her special “magic recipe box” which translate into a magic formula and trouble for Franny because there are “side-effects!” There is more chaos for Franny when she eventually tries to use the magic recipes herself to fix other problems.
I enjoyed this story! I also liked how Franny and Granny’s relationship grew into something special since I had such a close bond with both of my grandmothers, Grandma G.G. and Noni! They were awfully extraordinary themselves! I found Karma Bites was a book even I could relate to because most of us as adults experienced what Franny did in what was called in our day – junior high. Middle grade students will connect with Franny because they are actually living through these encounters right now – minus the magic! Franny speaks her mind and shows that it is important to be true to oneself. This would also be a good book for a mother daughter book group. I’ll be recommending this to my middle grade students when they visit the library. Many already have seen me with book and have commented on its title and the intriguing cover of the book!
This leads me to our first back to school library event and also for my book blog – my first preteen book giveaway contest!! To enter my book give away contest of Karma Bites, leave a comment at my blog of a junior high/middle school memory you’d like to share with others. For my students at school they’ll be submitting their names into a box for their chance to win a copy of Karma Bites by Stacy Kramer and Valerie Thomas. I’ll announce the winner next week. Good luck and happy reading!