Books by Kristine L. Franklin

GRAPE THIEF by Kristine L. Franklin
Released: Sept. 1, 2003

Twelve-year-old Slava Petrovich is growing up in a multiethnic community in Washington State in 1925. Beyond his ability to swear in 14 languages, and thus his nickname, "Cuss," Slava is a top student about to enter the seventh grade, the farthest anyone in his family has ever gone to school. But with the mines laying off, his brothers having fled the town under mysterious circumstances, and with no money coming in, Slava feels the pressure to leave school and find work. His friends, Perks and Skinny, share his plan of jumping the grape train out of town toward freedom and work. Franklin's story, woven around bits of family history, is a beautiful recreation of a community of Croatian, Italian, Swedish, and other ethnic groups becoming American. A fine historical novel with lively dialogue and plenty of excitement in the form of murders, mobsters, accidents, disease, and a family struggling to survive. A good match with Holm's Our Only May Amelia. (author's note) (Fiction. 10+)Read full book review >
THE GIFT by Kristine L. Franklin
Released: Oct. 1, 1999

A twist on the classic initiation tale of a first fishing trip and its catch-and-release ending. Set somewhere in the Northwest, this fish tale sees Jimmy Joe set out in a boat with the mysterious Fish Woman, in hopes of catching a prized salmon. After landing the enormous fish, Jimmy Joe feels unsettled. At this point, the story detours into the sighting of a pod of killer whales. In Jimmy Joe's enthusiasm, he abruptly surrenders his salmon to them in the hopes of luring the whales back for another glimpse. Children may puzzle over Jimmy Joe's choice and Franklin's continuous toying with the values of beauty over sustenance (the salmon is beautiful, but dies on the ice and is useful only as food; abruptly, the food is given to the whales, and Jimmy Joe has to go catch and cook more fish). The shapes and colors of Lavallee's seascapes are as glistening as the salmon's scales in sunlight. Friendly, rounded forms depict native people bent to various tasks alongside gliding, surfacing whales. The self-conscious message nearly kidnaps the story, but it is redeemed by the effervescent watercolors. (Picture book. 4-8) Read full book review >
DOVE SONG by Kristine L. Franklin
Released: Aug. 1, 1999

Two young people take on more than they can handle in this anguished, reflective story set on the homefront during the Vietnam War. The news that their father is missing in action horrifies Bobbie Lynn and her brother, Mason, but sends their dependent mother spiraling into a breakdown far worse than any of her previous spells; after a violent outburst, she takes to her bed, smoking, crying, and rarely eating. While the children struggle to maintain an appearance of normality, scramble for money, and care for their mother, Bobbie Lynn meets Wendy, a fiery, perceptive classmate and her brain-damaged twin sister, who are part of a lively, welcoming family. Despite Mason's conviction that they're on their own, Bobbie Lynn is driven to call for help, and support arrives speedily from several directions. Laced with tears and searching internal questions, Bobbie Lynn's narrative takes on an intensity of feeling that will engage readers, though next to such stories of dysfunctional families as Jackie French Koller's A Place To Call Home (1995), or Patricia Martin's Travels With Rainie Marie (1997) the characters and story line is sketchy. Franklin (Eclipse, 1995, etc.) comes up with a pat resolution, including the revelation that Bobbie Lynn's father is alive, and ties up loose ends in a way that is not fully credible. (Fiction. 10-13) Read full book review >
LONE WOLF by Kristine L. Franklin
Released: April 1, 1997

A tender tale of loss and the redeeming power of love from Franklin (Eclipse, 1995, etc.). For three years Perry Dubois, 11, has been coping with the pain of his little sister's death and his mother's subsequent abandonment of him and his dour, taciturn father. Leaving St. Paul behind, they move to a remote area of the north woods where Perry is home-schooled. The boy's only consolations are his dog and a cave that is high on the side of a steep hill, safe from prying eyes and intruders. When he hears the rare call of a lone timber wolf, he resolves to find him. Before he can, though, a large family moves into the old white house in view of the cave, which is on their land. The Pestalozzis are generous, loving group, everything Perry would like to ignore, but Willow, the oldest girl, quickly insinuates herself into Perry's life and draws him into her family, too. She insists on sharing his cave and tracks the timber wolf with Perry. Starved for love and companionship, Perry finds himself feeling more at home with the Pestalozzis than with his dad. The way in which Willow and her family break through Perry's carefully constructed shell provides a sensitive study on the vulnerabilities of the human heart. The writing is sure; the dovetailing of grief and memory with the events of the plot is impeccable. Readers won't soon forget Perry and his father as they rejoin the human race. (Fiction. 9-13) Read full book review >
ECLIPSE by Kristine L. Franklin
Released: March 1, 1995

It's the summer before she enters seventh grade and Trina is looking forward to lazy days with her best friend Miranda and her horse, Chico. But things begin to fall apart. Trina's father, who lost his job after a serious injury, is becoming stranger each day, angrily lashing out at his family for little or no reason. Money is already tight when he must shoot the calf he was planning to sell because it is born deformed. When Trina's mother, 48, announces she is pregnant, Trina is deeply shaken by the news, but her father must be hospitalized for depression. No sooner is he released than the baby is born, prematurely. On the anniversary of a night that holds loving memories for Trina and her father, he shoots himself. In this compact but powerful novel, Franklin ably points out the vulnerability of the young in the face of adult problems. Not only does Trina miss a summer of innocence, but she is forced to take on burdens beyond her years to keep the family from collapsing entirely. She is a memorable character with plenty of spunk; most young teenagers will identify with her—and some even may be inspired by her. (Fiction. 10-14) Read full book review >
THE SHEPHERD BOY by Kristine L. Franklin
Released: April 1, 1994

The parable of the shepherd who goes back to find one lost sheep, with a Native American boy as shepherd. Franklin's simple, cadenced retelling (also available in Spanish—ISBN: 0-689-31918- 5) unobtrusively suggests the new setting (``each day in the summer,/when school is out,/when the rains bless the ground,/when Father/digs in the garden/and Mother/weaves in the shade,/Ben leads the sheep/to a place/where green grass grows''). But Kastner's freely rendered oil paintings are the glory of this book; her full-bleed art, in panoramas extending nearly across the broad spreads, draws the reader into luminous canyons and evokes the Southwest's wide horizons; a decorative border with a Navajo motif divides the illustrations from a text that's imposed on the same canvas that gives the art texture—a design that enhances Kastner's best illustrations to date. A highly appropriate transposition for a particularly resonant story. (Picture book. 3-8) Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 30, 1992

The cycle of generations in an African village: A little boy who enjoys a toothless old man's stories asks, ``Were you ever a little boy?'' and is incredulous when he's told that ``Inside this old, old man...lives a very little boy.'' Time passes, and he lives to give his own grandson the same answer to the same question, and hear him respond with the same laughter. The story's universality is reinforced by its sparing use of detail— a technique echoed in Shaffer's powerful illustrations, presenting her sensitively portrayed characters against simple backdrops of warm earth, pale sky, and an occasional hut. Fine debuts for both author and artist. (Picture book. 4-8) Read full book review >