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.
PUBLICATION DATE: 2017 PAGE COUNT: 256
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.
FIVE THINGS TO LIKE ABOUT: CALL ME SUNFLOWER by Miriam Spitzer Franklin
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.