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J Stout, S.
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+ FICTION - STOUT
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Summary

Summary

World War II is coming in Europe. At least that's what Frankie Baum heard on the radio. But from her small town in Maryland, in the wilting summer heat of 1939, the war is a world away.

Besides, there are too many other things to think about: first that Frankie's father up and bought a restaurant without telling anyone and now she has to help in the kitchen, peeling potatoes and washing dishes, when she'd rather be racing to Wexler's Five and Dime on her skates. Plus her favorite sister, Joanie Baloney, is away for the summer and hasn't been answering any of Frankie's letters.

But when some people in town start accusing her father of being a German spy, all of a sudden the war arrives at Frankie's feet and she can think of nothing else.

Could the rumors be true? Frankie has to do some spying of her own to try to figure out her father's secrets and clear his good name. What she discovers about him surprises everyone, but is nothing compared to what she discovers about the world.

In a heartfelt, charming, and insightful novel that is based on true events, Shawn K. Stout weaves a story about family secrets, intolerance, and coming of age that will keep readers guessing until the end.

Praise for A Tiny Piece of Sky :

'Shawn Stout's Frankie Baum is that rare creation: a character so real, so true, we don't just feel we know her - we are her. Irrepressible Frankie meets issues like prejudice and loyalty head on, in a story both highly entertaining and deeply thought-provoking. She may be #3 in her family, but she'll be #1 in the hearts of all who read this book.' Tricia Springstubb, author of What Happened on Fox Street

'At turns hilarious, at turns heartbreaking, Shawn Stout's story shows us the damage that a whisper campaign can do to a family and a community, and at the same time shows us, each of us, a way to find our hearts. Frankie Baum is a hero from a distant time and yet a hero for all times, the kind of hero who never gets old. I loved this book from the very beginning to the very end.' Kathi Appelt, author of the National Book Award finalist and Newbery Honor book The Underneath

'Stout uses an archly chummy direct address at several points, successfully and humorously breaking up tension in this cleareyed look at bad behavior by society . . . Successfully warmhearted and child-centered.' Kirkus Reviews

'Through Frankie's thoughtful insights, Stout addresses injustices such as racism and xenophobia without turning didactic . . . and the conclusion is a realistic mix of bittersweet and heartwarming.' Publishers Weekly

'This is a solid, engaging tale of historical fiction.' Booklist

'Fans of Augusta Scattergood's Glory Be as well as those of Jeanne Birdsall's Penderwicks series will enjoy this slice of history. A solid piece of historical fiction to add to middle grade collections.' School Library Journal

'Tackling race, social justice, and even death, this well-paced novel will find the right audience among readers wanting fairness with their historical fiction.' BCCB

'Young teens will enjoy Frankie's spirit and humor while learning a little bit about people and prejudice along the way.' VOYA


Author Notes

Shawn K. Stout received an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts. She is the author of A Tiny Piece of Sky, the Not-So-Ordinary Girl series, and the Penelope Crumb series.

(Bowker Author Biography)


Reviews 4

School Library Journal Review

Gr 4-7-At the beginning of the summer of 1939, Frankie Baum is bidding farewell to her beloved sister, Joanie, and getting ready to spend the summer without her. Then, adding insult to injury, Frankie finds herself working in the kitchen of her father's newly acquired restaurant while her oldest sister, Elizabeth, gets to work the cash register. Frankie is a number three-the youngest of the three girls-and all she wants is to be treated and respected like a number one. So when rumors begin to circulate that her father is a German spy, she starts an investigation of her own. The novel is told in third-person omniscient with the narrator occasionally acting as a commentator. Tara Sands injects vivid life into this story with her narration. A note read by the author at the end reveals that the novel is based on true events from her family's history. VERDICT With its focus on the treatment of Germans living in the United States during World War II and its ties to true events, this will be a welcome addition to historical fiction shelves. ["A solid piece of historical fiction to add to middle grade collections": SLJ 1/16 review of the Philomel book.]-Elizabeth Elsbree, Krug Elementary School, Aurora, IL © Copyright 2016. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Publisher's Weekly Review

Colloquial omniscient narration and entertaining letters between sisters immerse readers in a spirited heroine's mind and the complexities of 1939 small-town life. Ten-year-old Frankie Baum hates being a "Number Three": her oldest sister, Elizabeth, can do no wrong, while Frankie's middle sister and best friend, Joan, gets to spend the summer on their aunt's farm. Meanwhile, Frankie is stuck working in the kitchen at her father's new restaurant. Voice actress Sands does an excellent job with Frankie, bringing just the right combination of childlike innocence and youngest-sibling outrage to flesh out the character. She inhabits the other characters with conviction, including the imperious oldest sister, nervous mother, and wise father, as well as various townspeople, such as the scheming mayoral candidate Mr. Price. The performance is strong, and listeners will be cheering for Frankie throughout. As an added bonus, the author reads a touching afterword in which she describes the genesis of the novel, which was inspired by her own grandparents. Ages 9-12. A Philomel hardcover. (Jan.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Kirkus Review

As her favorite sister heads off to Aunt Dottie's farm, Frankie Baum expects her own summer of 1939 to be dull, but her father's new restaurant creates an unexpected widening of her world. Stout's novel is steeped in the feel of life in a small city just as the rumblings of war in Europe begin to catch the attention of Americans. Frankie and her young cousins eagerly anticipate the late-summer arrival of The Wizard of Oz in Hagerstown's theater. While Frankie resents being the youngest, third child, her candid, irrepressible nature keeps both humor and pathos in balance. Hermann Baum's independent spirithe refuses to be bullied into joining the chamber of commerce or to put a campaign poster for the chamber president's mayoral race in his windowcombines with his German name to result in a disheartening boycott of his restaurant's opening celebration on the Fourth of July. Though most of the action takes place within Frankie's point of view, occasions when the narrative shifts briefly to another character's thoughts offer insight and suspense. Stout uses an archly chummy direct address at several points, successfully and humorously breaking up tension in this cleareyed look at bad behavior by societywhere discrimination both hidden and overt is practiced against the town's "colored" neighborsand by individual scoundrels like power-hungry Mr. Price. Successfully warmhearted and child-centered. (Historical fiction. 9-13) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.


Booklist Review

To Frankie, being the third child is a curse. Her two older sisters garner all the attention and fun jobs, while she waits in the shadows, seemingly overlooked by her parents. On the eve of WWII, as the family struggles with opening a new restaurant in their small Maryland town, wartime suspicion rears its ugly head: Frankie's dad, whose parents are German, is fingered as a potential spy by an unscrupulous mayoral candidate. Racist undertones, too, go deep: the restaurant employs African American staff, and Jim Crow tensions are high. Plucky preteen Frankie longs to take a brave stance against cruelty and small-mindedness and it wouldn't hurt if she was able to impress her family in the process. Readers will enjoy the suspense as Frankie sets off to clear her father's name, learns the truth of his values, and begins the bumpy, scary road of taking a stand. The folksy tone of the narration seems off the mark, given the serious events; nonetheless, this is a solid, engaging tale of historical fiction.--O'Malley, Anne Copyright 2016 Booklist