Karma Bites

Karma Bites

4.6 9
by Stacy Kramer, Valerie Thomas

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Life seems to have it in for Franny Flanders.

Her best friends aren’t speaking, her parents just divorced, and her hippie grandmother has moved in. The only karma Franny’s got is bad karma.

Then Franny gets her hands on a box of magic recipes that could fix all of her problems. It could even change the world! Finally, life

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Life seems to have it in for Franny Flanders.

Her best friends aren’t speaking, her parents just divorced, and her hippie grandmother has moved in. The only karma Franny’s got is bad karma.

Then Franny gets her hands on a box of magic recipes that could fix all of her problems. It could even change the world! Finally, life is looking up.

But Franny is about to learn that magic and karma aren’t to be played with. When you mess with the universe, it can bite back in unexpected ways.


Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Twelve-year-old Fanny is stressed: her parents are divorced, her father is already dating, and her freaky New Age grandmother, who serves yak butter tea and talks about her past lives, has moved in. Franny also feels caught between hyper-segregated social groups (her two best friends have chosen different sides) at Jefferson Middle School. When Franny learns about Granny's "Hindi help box" of spells that she acquired from a lama she met during her world travels, despite Granny's warnings to be prudent, Franny tries to fix her problems using the spells, which end up working a little too well. Franny and Granny share a strong chemistry, and the book is peppered with deadpan humor and amusing hyperbole, though Franny's habit of comparing her problems to those of people in developing nations ("I live in suburban Fall River, New Jersey, not Gaza. Must my life be so difficult on a daily basis?"), might provoke eye rolling. The plot unravels from parody into implausible slapstick with the appearance of a hip lama and a Justin Timberlake cameo. A few too many ingredients sour a promising recipe. Ages 10–up. (Aug.)
Children's Literature - Lisette Baez
Karma Bites is a funny and charming tale about surviving the cliques of middle school, family drama, and all the chaos that comes with the seventh grade. Twelve year old Franny Flanders' life is in turmoil. Her parents just got divorced, her hippie grandmother recently moved in, and her best friends are not speaking to each other. As if life couldn't get any worse, in a beauty makeover attempt, her hair is dyed orange. Granny comes to the rescue when she counteracts the color by using a recipe from a magic box. Granny acquired this special box from a monk in Bhutan. Despite warnings from Granny not to abuse the box's abilities, Franny quickly begins to tempt fate and the universe. She believes this box will fix all her problems and maybe even change the world. As the title boldly states, Franny quickly learns that karma indeed does bite. Her recipes and requests begin to backfire and what was once an exciting adventure now has her scrambling to just have her life back to the way it was. Reviewer: Lisette Baez
VOYA - Madelene Rathbun Barnard
Franny, a new middle school student, is down on her luck. She gives herself a bad hair dye the day before school begins. In addition, her two best friends (one a cheerleader and the other a member of band) are from two opposite ends of the school's social horizon. How can she divide her time between the two and still find time for herself? Mix in a spiritual New Age granny who happens to be friends with a powerful lama, her divorced parents, high-energy twin younger brothers, and an evil school queen bee—what would any sensible teenager do? Would she misuse her granny's magical box filled with wonderful curing recipes? Since it erased her bad hair dye (with only a few side effects), how harmful would "Brilliant Banana Bread" or "Make it Better Munchies Mix" be? Franny thinks, why not replace bad karma with good karma? Her choices create situations nothing short of planets colliding. Will everyone live happily ever after after a Justin Timberlake concert? Why not make some of the recipes within, find a charming reading spot, and magically transcend into Franny Flanders's world? I recommend the "Naturally Nice Nag." Reviewer: Madelene Rathbun Barnard
VOYA - Angi Barnard
Ugh! Franny Flanders has entered the middle school years. There are feuding best friends, divorced parents, an eccentric grandmother, and a secret crush. It seems like life cannot get any worse. After a freaky hair dye, Granny helps out using a magical recipe. Franny decides she can use other recipes to fix all her problems, ranging from the culinary-challenged lunch lady to the demonic English teacher. Her fixes upset the karma. I recommend reading this story to see if karma does bite. Reviewer: Angi Barnard, Teen Reviewer
School Library Journal
Gr 4–6—A breezy narrative and likable characters keep this book fresh, even while it leans on timeworn conventions. Magic, absurd situations, unforeseen consequences, a mean girl, and celebrities all play a part. Trouble begins when Franny's hair gets dyed orange. The 12-year-old's Granny counteracts the color with a recipe from a box acquired from a monk in Bhutan. Despite Granny's warnings, Franny asks the box to generate ideas for a smoothie, facials, and more to solve problems. She shuttles between best friend Joey, who hangs out with the pompom crowd, and her other BFF, Kate, a band geek. Her middle school is stratified, its hierarchy played out on the front stairs. At the top, Elodie won't let others in the door. After Franny applies her recipe, goodwill and then chaos ensue. Joey and Kate become so buddy-buddy that they leave her out. Her attempt to get her dad back with her mom instead of his girlfriend ends with him slumped into depression. It takes a visit from the monk to straighten things out. The message—to discuss problems with those involved—is admirable. But the conclusion—that kids need cliques in order for middle school to run effectively and smoothly—is a bit disconcerting. Better not think about the plot too much. If you need another lightweight read, this one's fun.—Tina Zubak, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, PA

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Product Details

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:
Sold by:
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
HL680L (what's this?)
File size:
222 KB
Age Range:
10 - 14 Years

Read an Excerpt

Prologue: Don’t Blame Me, Blame the Butterfly Effect Ever heard of the butterfly effect? It’s part of chaos theory, which we learned about in sixth grade science. For the record, calling it chaos is a huge understatement. It’s more like total flipping madness. The butterfly effect is this mind-bending idea that one small change in the world, like a butterfly’s wings flapping or a panda turning over in its den, can trigger a crazy, unexpected chain of events that can lead to something huge and unpredictable like a tornado, an earthquake, or, in my case, spontaneous combustion in middle school. Let me break it down. A panda turns over in its den, and that’s it, deed done, the panda goes back to sleep and absolutely nothing in the world has changed, right? Uh, wrong! Totally wrong! Turns out, that panda can rock the whole world with one innocent roll of its fluffy little body. Because when the panda turned over, its furry butt nudged a small stick out of its den; the stick began to roll; it knocked a rock loose, which in turn dislodged a bigger rock, which caused an avalanche of rocks to cascade down a mountain and into the sea, leading to a huge tsunami that hits the shore in Japan and wipes out an entire seaside village. Crazy, right? But it can happen. Trust me. I know. It happened to me. One little bitty thing knocked my whole world out of whack, metaphorically speaking. And I’m still recovering from it . . . But wait. I’m getting ahead of myself here. Before I go any further, I need to go back. Two months, to be exact, to the night before the first day of school.

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