CALL ME SUNFLOWER for Marvelous Middle Grade Monday

It’s been two years since Miriam Spitzer Franklin’s debut novel, EXTRAORDINARY, was released. This month her much anticipated second novel hits the shelves, CALL ME SUNFLOWER. To celebrate this occasion I have a giveaway: One lucky person will win a copy of CALL ME SUNFLOWER. Just leave a comment by 10 pm EST on May 11. Good luck and now on to my review…


Sunny is one confused middle grade kid. She has always known about being adopted at birth by her parents. What she doesn’t know will soon be discovered in a picture, sending Sunny into the typical tween behavior of act first-think about the real consequences later. The decisions she makes hurts family, friends and herself. It’s the conflict that keep us reading.

The first person narration takes you through the anxiety of being the new kid in school and having the parents she loves separated by several states and one huge secret. Life does not always come wrapped in a neat package and Sunny shows it at every turn in this heartfelt and issue driven plot.

Perfect as a read aloud with many chances for discussion, the book will have you thinking about family and how sometimes we make the growing up years for kids even more difficult.

Spend some time with Sunflower and her family. You’ll be enriched.


FULL PLOT (From AMAZON) Sunny Beringer hates her first name—her real first name—Sunflower. And she hates that her mom has suddenly left behind her dad, Scott, and uprooted their family miles away from New Jersey to North Carolina just so she can pursue some fancy degree. Sunny has to live with a grandmother she barely knows, and she’s had to leave her beloved cat and all her friends behind. And no one else seems to think anything is wrong.

So she creates “Sunny Beringer’s Totally Awesome Plan for Romance”—a list of sure-fire ways to make her mom and Scott fall madly in love again, including:

Send Mom flowers from a “Secret Admirer” to make Scott jealous and make him regret letting them move so far away.
Make a playlist of Scott’s favorite love songs—the mushier the better—and make sure it’s always playing in the car.
Ask them about the good old days when they first fell in love.
But while working on a photo album guaranteed to make Mom change her mind and rush them right back home, Sunny discovers a photo—one that changes everything.

Sunny’s family, the people she thought she could trust most in the world, have been keeping an enormous secret from her. And she’ll have to reconcile her family’s past and present, or she’ll lose everything about their future.


  1. I smiled upon seeing the initials ‘OM’ woven into the story. It stands for Odyssey of the Mind and is a creative problem solving competition offered in many school districts. I’ve been a coach and for many kids it becomes their one way to shine.
  2. The upheaval of leaving old friends and trying to make new ones is expertly crafted here. There are emails to keep the connection with past friends and often uncomfortable conversations with the new faces in Sunny’s life.
  3. The selling of animal fur coats is a subplot that looms larger by the end. It’s a hot topic kids and adults will take a strong opinion toward.
  4. Autumn is the younger sister who tends to act like the typical little girl. That is until her strong voice shines through at the end.
  5. North Carolina makes a great setting for this story.

FAVORITE LINES:  “It’s going to be okay,” Scott had said after he explained why I couldn’t stay with him at his condo: he was too busy running his store and going back to school to take care of an eleven-year-old and, besides, Mom would never leave me behind.

I wanted to shake him by the shoulders and yell, “How can you just let us go?” Instead, I noticed the way his face look older, like he hadn’t slept well in weeks. I stared into Scott’s blue-green eyes, swallowing over the apple-sized lump in my throat. “I’m going to miss you so much,” I whispered.

AUTHOR QUOTE (from Miriam Spitzer Franklin’s website): 

Here’s one important lesson I’ve learned: If you quit when you feel discouraged, you’ll never find out what you could have done if you’d stuck with it instead.

Or, even better: The ONLY way to fail is to quit!


Make a comment if you have time. I enjoy reading all of them. Click on the comments link below.

Check the links to other Middle Grade novels over at Shannon Messenger’s Marvelous Middle Grade Monday post.


About Greg Pattridge

Climbing another mountain...always striving to reach the next peak in my life and career.
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16 Responses to CALL ME SUNFLOWER for Marvelous Middle Grade Monday

  1. Sounds like an interesting story, especially with the adoption of Sunflower. My daughter is adopted so I’m always glad to see a story where the main character is adopted. Love how she tries to bring her family together. I’ll let someone else with a smaller TBR list win this.

  2. allenbookclub says:

    I love the title. Sunflowers are one of the things on my makes-me-happy list. In Canned and Crushed Sandro’s little sister Girasol’s name means sunflower. Will pass along the recommendation to adopted kids I know.

  3. Kathleen says:

    I’m looking forward to reading CALL ME SUNFLOWER! I LOVED Miriam’s debut novel, EXTRAORDINARY. I’m so happy for my fellow Sky Pony author and friend, Miriam😊

  4. Love the author quote. So true. This sounds intriguing, especially the idea of one photo changing everything, but my TBR stacks are towering, so please let someone else win.

  5. Denise Pyra says:

    So many interesting plot lines you’ve teased us with. I can’t wait to read this one and the cover is fantastic.

  6. cleemckenzie says:

    All of those experiences are wrenching for anyone, but for a youngster, they can be devastating. I think this sounds like a perfect book for a kid. It would be a perfect for this one because I had some of those issues growing up. They still affect my life.

  7. Melody TInsel says:

    This sounds like a very emotional read with some humor. Perfect for the summer. Thanks for the chance to win.

  8. Another book for my staggering TBR list. Your review makes this one go into the “don’t miss” column. Please let someone else win though. Still buried here.

  9. Thanks, Greg, for your wonderful review and for hosting the giveaway! It’s great to meet another OM coach–I’ve coached my daughter’s team for the past 4 years and we are both passionate about this program!

    • My pleasure, Miriam. So happy to give a boost to your story and its upcoming release. Triple digit views of the post today and it’s postiioned first on my site until Friday.

  10. This sounds really fun, and I must confess that the mystery hinted at has me super curious. 🙂 It’s going on the TBR pile, with my thanks!

  11. jennienzor says:

    Ooh, I love the quote by the author. The quote from the book hits you right in the gut. This sounds like an interesting take on the child going through divorce/separation. I also like that it has Odyssey of the Mind! And sunflowers!

  12. Sue Kooky says:

    Omg, the title and the cover sound lovely! I’ve never read (or been to) a book in North Carolina. It’s awesome that there’s a wise little sister too. 🙂

  13. Thanks for sharing. Sounds interesting!

  14. I was reminded a little bit of the Parent Trap reading your description (well, only the trying to reconcile two parents part, not the twin sisters!). This seems like an interesting book!

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