Francie

( 9 )

Overview

Francie lives with her mother and younger brother, Prez, in rural Alabama, where all three work and wait. Francie's father is trying to get settled in Chicago so he can move his family up North. Unfortunately, he's made promises he hasn't kept, and Francie painfully learns that her dreams of starting junior high school in an integrated urban classroom will go unfulfilled. Amid the day-to-day grind of working odd jobs for wealthy white folks on the other side of town, Francie becomes involved in helping a framed ...

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Francie

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Overview

Francie lives with her mother and younger brother, Prez, in rural Alabama, where all three work and wait. Francie's father is trying to get settled in Chicago so he can move his family up North. Unfortunately, he's made promises he hasn't kept, and Francie painfully learns that her dreams of starting junior high school in an integrated urban classroom will go unfulfilled. Amid the day-to-day grind of working odd jobs for wealthy white folks on the other side of town, Francie becomes involved in helping a framed young black man to escape arrest—a brave gesture, but one that puts the entire black community in danger. In this vivid portrait of a girl in the pre-civil rights era South, Karen English completes Francie's world using lively vernacular and a wide array of flesh-and-blood characters.

 

Francie is a Coretta Scott King Honor book.

When the sixteen-year-old boy whom she tutors in reading is accused of attempting to murder a white man, Francie gets herself in serious trouble for her efforts at friendship.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Set sometime during the Truman administration [1945-1953], this portrait of a 12-year-old black girl in Alabama is a model of economy. Karen English compresses worlds of feeling and experience into every sequence of her first novel, offering readers not just a good diversion but an opportunity to try on someone else's skin."—The New York Times Book Review

"Francie's smooth-flowing, well-paced narration is gently assisted by just the right touch of the vernacular. Characterization is evenhanded and believable, while place and time envelop readers. The message that one must rise out of oppression and actively seek a better life is a good one."—School Library Journal, Starred Review

“Readers will cheer Francie and her brave mother, from whom she inherits her rare grace and honesty.”—The Horn Book

"A keenly perceptive and gutsy heroine."—Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

"English beautifully captures the charm and peril of Francie's Alabama."—USA Today

Horn Book
(Intermediate)
Almost thirteen-year-old Francie finds it difficult to tolerate the inequities that her time, place, and race impose on her, and she speaks up for herself in scenes that will bring Mildred Taylor's Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry to mind. From the first sentence, straightforward Francie owns up to her transgressions but doesn't let others off easily ("I did something to that cat, I admit it. But that cat did something to me first"). It helps that Francie and her mother and younger brother believe that their days in rural Alabama in the early 1950s will soon be behind them: their father has promised to send for them when his job as a Pullman porter in Chicago permits it. In the meantime, Francie suffers constant injustices when she accompanies her mother at her domestic jobs for white folks; when her overworked, frustrated mother lashes out against her; when she is falsely accused of lying and stealing in the white-owned drugstore. But at school, book-loving Francie shines, and she is called on to teach sixteen-year-old Jesse Pruit to read. Despite Jesse's lack of schooling, he dreams of a place called California on the Pacific Ocean: "I'ma go there one day-where they grow oranges on trees." He struggles to master even the elementary alphabet with Francie's help; her help becomes far more vital-and dangerous-when Jesse is accused of the attempted murder of a white man and hides out to escape capture. Readers will cheer Francie and her brave mother, from whom she inherits her rare and honest gutsiness. English never makes things easy for this resilient household and the secondary characters whom she also brings to life. When the long-awaited letter finally arrives, it's not from Daddy; it's from Jesse: "just a picture postcard. Of an orange grove." Bravo. s.p.b.
NY Times Book Review
Set sometime during the Truman administration, this portrait of a 12-year-old black girl in Alabama is a model of economy . . .
School Library Journal
Francie's smooth-flowing, well-paced narration is gently assisted by just the right touch of the vernacular.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
A keenly perceptive and gutsy heroine narrates this debut novel set in segregated 1940s Alabama. Francie, her mama and brother, Prez (named for FDR), patiently await word from her father, who has been gone for more than a year, to join him in Chicago where he works as a Pullman porter. Francie and her mother continue to make ends meet while bravely fending off the intimations from town gossips that their dream of reuniting their family may not come true. English (Just Right Stew) carefully and subtly plants the seeds for several dramatic scenes in the novel. For instance, Francie notices Holly, from a rich white family whom she and Mama work for, stealing a tube of lipstick; in a later chapter, when the shopkeeper accuses Francie of stealing a book she brought into the store with her, Holly stacks the evidence against Francie. The author effectively builds the rebellious streak in the heroine until Francie cleverly and humorously exacts revenge on the haughty Holly. English thus sets the stage for the moment when Francie comes to the aid of an older boy whom she tutored in reading and who is falsely accused of assaulting his white employer. These winning characters credibly surmount obstacles as a matter of course. In a triumphant and surprising ending, English pointedly leaves a few loose ends, but readers will come away knowing that Francie's spirit and intelligence will get her family through. Ages 10-up. (Oct.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
VOYA
Thirteenyearold Francie Weaver lives a weary life, working long hours with her mother for the white women in the small, segregated town of Noble, Alabama, while her brother Prez and cousin Perry pick cotton after school. Francie's father has been in Chicago working for a year as a Pullman porter, and the Weaver children anxiously await the day they will join him for a better life. His letters promise Francie piano lessons and a childhood without all the hard work. Only at "Miss Beach's Boarding House for Colored" does Francie find brief moments of joy. Her teacher, Miss Lafayette, often gives Francie books that she treasures reading. Just before her eighth grade graduation, Francie begins tutoring sixteenyearold Jesse Pruitt, who supports his family instead of attending school. After his father takes him out of school to work the fields, Jesse disappearsthe sheriff wants him for trying to kill the white farm foreman. Francie puts her family in jeopardy when she decides to help Jesse. English paints a vivid picture, often in painful detail, of the difficult life of many African American women of the South before the Civil Rights movement. Readers will gain valuable information about the 1930s through mention of Pullman porters, President Franklin Roosevelt, migration to Chicago, and, of course, the harsh reality of segregation. This book will be a valuable addition to middle school collections and for use in history classrooms. VOYA CODES: 3Q 2P M J (Readable without serious defects; For the YA with a special interest in the subject; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9). 1999, Farrar Straus & Giroux, Ages 12 to 15, 208p, $16.Reviewer:Brenda MosesAllen
Library Journal
Gr 5-8-Waiting for the day her Pullman porter father will send for the family, Francie bides her time in her small-minded Alabama town. An absorbing picture of the past, populated with courageous characters pursuing a dream. (Sept.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
School Library Journal
Gr 5-8-The best student in her small, all-black school in preintegration Alabama, 12-year-old Francie hopes for a better life. While she and her strict mother wait for her Pullman porter father to move them up North, they work very hard just to survive. Cleaning, cooking, and waiting tea for the white people in town, Francie wonders just what it would be like to have nothing to do other than enjoy the day, but each of her father's letters brings only promises and disappointment. When Jessie, an older school friend who is without family, is forced on the run by a racist employer, Francie leaves her mother's labeled canned food for him in the woods. Only when the sheriff begins searching their woods, and her younger brother and cousin are abducted, does she realize the depth of the danger she may have brought to her family. Francie's smooth-flowing, well-paced narration is gently assisted by just the right touch of the vernacular. Characterization is evenhanded and believable, while place and time envelop readers. The message that one must rise out of oppression and actively seek a better life is a good one. Excellent companion books might be Carolyn Meyer's White Lilacs (Gulliver, 1993) and Patricia McKissack's Run Away Home (Scholastic, 1997).-Cindy Darling Codell, Clark Middle School, Winchester, KY Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312373832
  • Publisher: Square Fish
  • Publication date: 12/26/2007
  • Series: Coretta Scott King Honor Bks.
  • Edition description: STRIPPABLE
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 208
  • Sales rank: 407,464
  • Age range: 9 - 12 Years
  • Lexile: 660L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.24 (w) x 7.58 (h) x 0.58 (d)

Meet the Author

Karen English is the author of many children's books, including Speak to Me (And I Will Listen Between the Lines), which was an SLJ Best Book of 2004. Her most recent book, The Baby on the Way, illustrated by Sean Qualls, was published in Fall 2005, and her new book, Red Shoes, will be published by FSG in Spring 2009. She lives in Los Angeles, California.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 9 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(3)

4 Star

(4)

3 Star

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2 Star

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Sort by: Showing all of 9 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 30, 2013

    I love this book!

    My 6th grade english class read this in class, and it was tons of fun! If you read with a southern accent like Francie has, the book will be much more entertaining and a lot of fun!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 4, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Francie

    English, K. (2002). Francie. New York: Sunburst.



    0374424594



    Set in the late 1940s or early 1950s. Francie lives with her mother and brother in the segregated Alabama while her father works and sends money from Chicago. Francie helps her mother work various jobs and attends school while she dreams of being able to move north and have access to "possibilites". She faces bullying and many small injustices under segregation. When a teenager she is teaching to read is accused of attempting to murder a white man, Francie faces the choice of whether or not to help him with the risk that will make life become more difficult for her family and all of the other blacks living in her town.



    While this well-written book is not a formal mystery, Francie's love for Nancy Drew novels and her clever ways of getting back at those who torment her add a sense of tension that helps the book feel like a historical mystery.



    Also worth noting, Francie does complicate issues of race beyond whites=evil, blacks=victims. There are a few white characters who are presented in a positive light and some black characters who Francie is less than fond of for understandable reasons.





    Activities to do with the book:



    There are multiple references to other works of literature, including Nancy Drew mysteries, War and Peace and the poems of Langston Hughes that a teacher could base lessons around. A teacher could also emphasize the power of literacy, since many of the supporting characters wish they could read as Francie does.



    A teacher could also use this book as a basis for lessons on American history, including information on transportation, economic conditions, criminal justice and segregation.



    When discussing segregation, this is a good book to show the subtle forms of racism and discrimination that occurred on a daily basis. A daring teacher could also consider whether some of these small injustices still continue in present-day American society as well.



    Another way of connecting this text to recent events is to consider how assumptions over Jesse's guilt or innocence were divided along racial identity. A teacher could draw parallels to judgments people made about OJ Simpson when he was on trial for murder.





    Favorite Quotes:



    "I did something to that cat, I admit it. But that cat did something to me first" (p. 3).



    "I was innocent, but the world had decided to make me guilty. Why did I feel so guilty?" (p. 61).



    "God had blessed me with knowing I could fight my way out of my circumstances, if need be" (p. 63).

    For more of my reviews, check out sjkessel.blogspot.com.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 21, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    I loved this book It was probably so far the best book I ever read in my life!

    This book was very intresting and kept me hooked on. It had a lot of creativity. This also taught me a lot about history. If you like historical fiction, this would be a great book for you to read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 10, 2007

    so good!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    this book is so good I'm in 5th grade and if you are looking for a good book to read this is a wonderful book!!!!! If you cry easily you will cry in this book

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 21, 2007

    WONDERFUL!!!!

    This book is wonderful! I think everyone should read it! I think it is great how Francie never gives up hope that her dad will come home! I love this book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 4, 2003

    boring and dragged on forever

    this book wasn't as good as i thought it would be! i was expecting this book to be interesting since it's about the boy who's accused of murder! but it's not all about that at all! only about 1/4 of the book is about the boy! it's really not interesting so i wouldn't recommend it!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 22, 2003

    This book is monotonous and boring

    Francie is a book about a young teen who has a hard, depressing life. Much of the book is her talking about how life's not fair and how she is gonna get whipped when she gets home. This book is very slow and also makes you sad when you read it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 1, 2001

    Francie

    This book really shows great courage. It is very good. I read this book in 2 days it was so good. I would really recomend this book to anyone who is looking for a good and fast read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 9, 2001

    Francie

    Francie is a great book. I would definetly recomend it to all readers over twelve years old.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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