Be Frank with Me by Julia Claib0rne Johnson


When Alice was asked by her boss and mentor, Mr. Vargas, to move out to California from New York to assist the renowned M.M. Banning with the writing of her new book and the care of the author’s son,  she is eager to be of help to him.  It seemed a perfect fit – she’d been an assistant elementary school teacher – she was good with kids.  And if she had to push the author a bit, so be it.  Bring it on!

Little did Alice know that she’d be entering the world of Frank, a 9 year old eccentric genius who was known to wear top hat and tails to school, to quote lines verbatim from old Humphrey Bogart movies, and to share long lists of random facts with anyone he may meet.  As Alice was brought into the life of this extraordinary and heart-wrenching boy, she does her best to keep this little family together and oversee what she hopes will be the author’s next brilliant novel.

This heart-warming novel really brings to light the value and uniqueness of every individual.  While Frank has difficulty with fitting in with any of his peers, he does worm his way into the hearts of the adults to bother to get to know him well.  He certainly has his quirks, but he has his charms too.  In addition, his mother, Mimi has her own quirks, but when we learn where they come from, we feel a tenderness toward even her, with her hard edge.

With the currently growing awareness of bullying in schools – and with our current bully-in-chief as a frightening example to all – this book has a timely message.  We all need to appreciate the beauty in everyone and to teach our children – by example – that although others may be different, that does not mean they do not deserve respect and kindness.  Poor Frank is rejected not only by the other children, but by his teachers and eventually his principal (!) and it is only through the kindness of the grown-ups around him that he is able to survive and flourish.  We learn that everyone can be seen from many different angles and through many different lenses – and each individual can contribute something special to the world around them.

As Alice slowly falls in love with little Frank, so too does the reader – and it carries the book through all of the outlandish circumstances that befall them all.

This is a special book – entertaining and meaningful all at once…

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