Franny Parker

Franny Parker
Age Range
Release Date
May 26, 2009
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"Rings on a tree tell a story,” Franny Parker tells Lucas Dunn. “They tell you about its seasons, if they’ve been plentiful or not.” So far, the rings of Franny’s life have been marked by her family, their farm, their dusty little Oklahoma town – all of it so familiar. But in the summer of her thirteenth year, the Dunns move in next door, harboring painful secrets. From the moment Franny meets Lucas, the two begin a friendship that introduces Franny to the large world beyond her barnyard fence. As their town endures one of the harshest droughts in decades, Franny learns that those in need are not just those others you hear about in church or school; they can be injured wildlife or even the family next door. When her own family suffers a loss, Franny must find the courage to look beyond her sadness to aid a friend in need. This tender, beautifully written debut novel is the story of a summer full of promises and pain, a season that, although one of the hardest in Franny Parker’s life, turns out to be plentiful.

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Plentiful Seasons
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Franny Parker, written by The Properties of Water author Hannah Roberts McKinnon, is about people living in Two houses, side by side along the same bubbling river: one brimming with warm voices that spilled from its windows, one aching with a sadness that rippled from its shingled roof like rainwater. Twelve year old Franny Parker lives in the house brimming with warm voices. Newcomer Lucas Dunn and his mother, Lindy, live in the house of sadness.

At the beginning of the summer, when Lucas and Lindy move into the old cabin next door, it is instant crush for Franny. It seems like Lucas might feel the same, but Sidda, Frannys older sister, is trying to attract Lucas attention. Things go smoothly for a little while, Franny nursing wounded animals back to health and Lucas working at the local Harlands Market. But unnerving things begin to happen. A black car arrives at the Dunns cabin and neither Lucas nor Lindy are happy about it. Soon after, $3,000 is missing from Harlands. The once happy Dunns are now sad and distant. The Parkers offers of assistance go unaccepted by Lucas and Lindy.

McKinnon has such a beautiful way with words. The way she describes Oklahoma farm town life and its inhabitants, the countryside, the sadness when a farm burns down touch the reader. McKinnons characters, such as gruff Grandma Rae and her posse of quilters, are colorful to say the least. Frannys caring parents and the Dunns are real. Readers will immediately like Franny and Lucas and Ben, Frannys younger brother. Theyll love rural Oklahoma, both the idealized version as well as the hard-life version.

Franny Parker is what every girl-next-door should be. I personally want to move into the Dunns cabin and befriend her. For those of you old enough to remember The Waltons, consider the Parkers modern-day Waltons, quiet caring, quaint sayings, family-oriented, full of hope. For those of you too young to remember The Waltons, just sit down and enjoy are marvelous book.

In the end, Lucas was right about plentiful seasons. Although that summer was one of the hardest, it was really the beginning. In me it added to the rings of my tree, the hope and the sadness, thbe trying and the giving up, and trying all over again. It filled me up, spilling into my branches, unfurling my leaves. My limbs tingled with the energy of it. And I grew.

Like I said with The Properties of Water, Franny Parker might also be one of my 10 best for 2011 (even though it was written in 2009).
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