Freaky Fast Frankie Joe
Written by Lutricia Clifton
Frankie Joe lives in a trailer park in Texas and his friends are the retired people who live there. But all that changes when he has to leave them behind because his mother is put in jail and he can’t live alone. The father he has never known is taking temporary custody of Frankie Joe. He will move in with a family he has never met and go to Illinois, a place he has never seen. Frankie Joe hates it. The school holds him back a grade to give him a chance to catch up, but he is bigger than everyone else. His four half brothers make him feel like a freak. He decides to escape. He will earn money as a delivery boy and ride back home on his bicycle. Slowly, he makes friends as he builds his business and he gains the respect of his new family. Just as he attempts to put his escape into action, his mother throws the biggest kink of all into the plan. She signs over permanent custody to his father and blithely leaves town with the boyfriend whose drugs landed her in jail in the first place. The life he created in Illinois is now his safety net.
Despite missing his home, sweet-natured Frankie Joe is wise beyond his years when he deals with his family and teachers, showing admirable problem-solving skills and providing a good model for readers. The third grade reading level makes this book a good choice for those students reading the Ramona series or the Clementine books, if they are looking for something longer to read. This would also be a good book club selection for motivated third graders. There are excellent literacy activities on the author’s website: (http://www.lutricia-lois-clifton.com/teacher-resources/ ) as well as on the publisher’s website: (http://holidayhouse.com/docs/Freaky_Fast_Frankie_Joe.pdf)