MMGM and #IMWAYR: Frankie's World!

Hi everyone, and happy MLK Day! After last week's COVID adventure, I am on the mend—still testing positive, unfortunately, but feeling normal except for occasional coughing and sniffles. I am so tired of being stuck at home (there are people I want to see, and haircuts I desperately need to get!), but I'm going to hang in there. It'll be over soon!

Also, I am headed back to graduate school this upcoming week, so only time will tell if I will continue blogging semi-consistently, or if I will be dropping off the face of the earth to focus on the million other things that comprise my life. Regardless, I'm glad I've been able to fit in six books, four blog posts, and some time spent in this wonderful blogosphere with you all before the winter break ends!

Today, I've got a delightful middle-grade graphic novel to tell you about, so let's jump in!

Middle Grade:

Frankie's World

Written and illustrated by Aoife Dooley
Graphic novel · 2022
Book 1 of 2 (Frankie's World · Finding My Voice)

· · · The publisher says: · · ·

From acclaimed Autistic Irish comedian Aoife Dooley comes a fresh and funny debut middle-grade graphic novel about fitting in and standing out.

Frankie is different from everyone in her class, and she can't figure out why. She has trouble concentrating, and her classmates tease her for not having a dad at home. To try to make sense of the world, Frankie doodles her daily adventures in a journal. One day, when Frankie sneaks into her mom's room and sees her biological father's name on her birth certificate, she decides to go on a mission to track him down. Could Frankie's father be the key to finding out why Frankie feels so adrift?

A unique story told with a light touch and an abundance of warmth and wit, Frankie's World is laugh-out-loud funny and a love letter to daring to be different.

· · · · · ·

This was such a delightful read, oh my goodness! I'm often drawn to books that are fairly serious emotionally, and it's honestly been so long since I've read something with the sense of humor and keen child's perspective that made books like Diary of a Wimpy Kid, or My Weird School, or even books by Kirk Scroggs favorites of mine growing up.

It is absurdly easy to root for our protagonist Frankie. Her strong opinions, kind heart, and slight befuddlement by the weirdness of her world will make her both relatable and beloved for any young reader who encounters her. She's immensely imaginative, mentally casting herself and her "outcast" friends as superheroes, and sharing that if she could have any superpower, one she'd pick is finishing all her homework in less than five seconds (I'm stealing her answer, because geez, I want that too). Frankie is a model for how to write a character in a children's book who actually feels like a real kid, and she's the key to this book working as well as it does.

Frankie is surrounded by all kinds of mayhem in the story. Some of it's nonsensical, like her strict teacher Ms. Crackle and the supposedly-cursed bow tie she makes students wear when they forget theirs (I believe the story is set in Ireland, and it seems like students have to wear uniforms there). Some of the mayhem is sweet, like Frankie's wicked-smart best friend Sam (who I totally read in the voice of fellow smart-kid Hedgehog from Summer Camp Island), or another student named Rebecca who Frankie and Sam get to know as the story progresses. And some of the mayhem is actually quite poignant, like Frankie learning to stand up for herself at school with the help of karate, or Frankie and her family members dealing with health challenges, or Sam occasionally being left out because of ableism (she uses a wheelchair). Despite these poignant moments, though, Frankie's World never even gets close to being a sad read, with author Aoife Dooley's sense of humor and lighthearted red-and-blue illustrations keeping the story moving at a brisk pace.

I'm also thrilled at the emphasis in Frankie's World on neurodiversity. There are not nearly enough children's books (especially graphic novels) that explore this topic, and some of the ones that are out there are either badly written (I DNFed a graphic novel on this topic in 2023) or flat-out offensive (if you've ever read Rules by Cynthia Lord, which I loved as a kid, please go read this article on all the ways it's actually really harmful). In contrast to all that mess, Frankie's World explores neurodiversity in a way that is both affirming and informative for young readers, without ever being didactic (I mean, except in the back matter, but that's kind of how back matter works). So it's really important that this book exists.

My only real criticism of this book is that the plot logic is a little hazy at times. Mostly it's not an issue, because it fits with Frankie's zany outlook on life. But one of the key issues of the story wraps up in a way that isn't realistic, which was a bit frustrating. Also, I wish Frankie's mom (or "mam," as it's written in Frankie's dialect) was challenged to show up for her daughter more effectively, because she has good intentions but poor execution when it comes to her parenting.

Despite those flaws, though, I am confident that Frankie's World is a book that will both delight and mean a whole lot to countless young readers, and I have no qualms telling you all to stick this book in kids' hands (and sneak a read of your own too, because it's so darn fun!). And the best part is, there's a sequel to this story called Finding My Voice, and I will no doubt be tracking it down so I can spend more time in the world of this one-of-a-kind character.

Bookish thoughts:

Considering how much I like reading, and how much I enjoy pretty much every book I pick up, I have found myself with a bizarre lack of intrinsic motivation to read, honestly for a while now. Yesterday, I was trying to think of fun things to do in the evening, and I was like, "Should I read? Nah, I don't feel like it. But it's good for me! But I don't feel like it. Well...? No. But maybe I really should—" and then I saw Frankie's World on my shelves and it was settled and I read. But that is way too much inner turmoil for something I literally enjoy doing! Do you all ever have this problem, where the initial hump of deciding to read a book is higher than the hump of doing something else, even if that thing is less fun?

That's all, y'all—take care, stay warm, and happy reading! ✨✨

Comments

  1. I think we all go through periods where reading doesn't quite work for us or we can't seem to find "just the right book." I think being in grad school also does it to you because you are reading so much for school that the last thing you want to do in your spare time is read.

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  2. I'm glad you are about to break free of the COVID barriers. Keep getting well. You book selection was a perfect choice for MMGM today. The character and story line sound fantastic. I've added it to my list of future reads. I have specific times I read during the day so reading is all about balancing that pursuit with everything else going on in one's life. No need to feel guilty about not reading.

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  3. This is a new-to-me book and it sounds great. I enjoy Cynthia Lord's books, but will have to check out the link you posted about Rules. It's important to get the exploration of a lot of topics, including neurodiversity, right. I go through brief moments where I don't feel like reading or I just can't decide what to read even though I have huge stacks of books that are bound to be great. Sometimes I think my mind is just too overwhelmed. But I still manage to read lots, so I don't let these times get to me.

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  4. Yes, about wanting to do something else other than reading, Max. Thanks for sharing this book which I've never seen before. I am behind in the usual reading because of the Cybil's reading. Though I've enjoyed the books, others are shouting to me, too! Best wishes in grad school, a different experience this time. Hope you have some awesome teachers!

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  5. I'm glad you enjoyed this one so much once you decided to read it. It sounds awesome. And it's okay to not want to read all the time. Good luck with the start of grad school again.

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  6. This sounds like a sweet, fun book. I've been battling a reading slump of my own lately. <3 Hopefully we'll both find ways to get our reading mojo back soon. :)

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  7. I am thrilled to hear you're feeling almost normal again! In the chronic illness world, I know all too well how many cases of COVID lead to long-term illness, so this is great news. I do hope you get that haircut and some social interaction soon! Frankie's World sounds good, and I hadn't heard of it before, so thanks for the heads up. And I, too, loved Rules when I read it years ago, so I'll have to read the linked article. Have a great semester!

    Sue
    Book By Book

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  8. Nice review. Glad you got out of your "Nah" zone and read it, enjoyed it, and shared it with us! Carol Baldwin

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  9. I've had several students I'm pretty sure finished all their homework in 5 seconds! Hope you are back to 100% soon, especially with classes starting up again. Thanks for your review. The book sounds pretty interesting.

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  10. Hopefully you are recovered from the covid adventure by now. I agree with Helen. Grad school can wreck havoc with our reading enjoyment.
    Thanks so much for the heads up about this book. I've just downloaded a digital copy and hope to get to it soon.

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  11. I'm glad you're recovering. Hope you'll feel 100% better soon.

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  12. Story structure is tricky, and it really shows when it's not quite right. An ending that feels forced or tacked-on is definitely one of the signs. RE Frankie's mother: I'm wondering if she and Frankie both are neurodiverse (I'm getting ADHD vibes from your review) and that's why she has a hard time showing up for her daughter? Great review, as usual!

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  13. Always need something to recommend to my Diary of a Wimpy Kid readers, and I hadn't heard of this one yet, and if it is diverse as well--win win win! Thank you for sharing :)

    Have you read Airi Sano? https://www.unleashingreaders.com/27266

    Happy reading! :)

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