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This gem of a novel takes place in Pittsburgh in 1952. Franny Katzenback, while recovering from polio, reads and falls in love with the brand-new book Charlotte’s Web. Bored and lonely and yearning for a Charlotte of her own, Franny starts up a correspondence with an eloquent flea named Fleabrain who lives on her dog’s tail. While Franny struggles with physical therapy and feeling left out of her formerly active neighborhood life, Fleabrain is there to take her on adventures based on his extensive reading. It’s a touching, funny story set in the recent past, told with Rocklin’s signature wit and thoughtfulness.
Bank Street Children's Books "Best Books of the Year," Fiction Ages 9-12
Sydney Taylor Notable Book for Older Readers
Praise for Fleabrain Loves Franny
"Heartwarming and endlessly funny, Fleabrain Loves Franny will delight readers of all ages. Rocklin’s sharp wit and exuberant writing style are refreshing. This book is not to be missed."
"Franny—a compassionate, thoughtful and sympathetic protagonist—is believably erratic in her emotions and reflections on her illness and its effects on her previously carefree life."
"Rocklin perfectly captures the era of 1952 and creates a sympathetic, realistic character in Franny, who begins to accept her condition, rejoin her friends and even protest her school’s inaccessibility."
"Comedic and philosophical, readers will find multiple levels to enjoy."
--School Library Journal
About the Author
Joanne Rocklin is the author of many books for children, including The Five Lives of Our Cat Zook, which won the Golden Kite Award and was named to Florida’s Sunshine State Young Readers Award master list. Lucy Knisley is a critically acclaimed comic creator and author of the New York Times bestselling graphic memoir Relish.
"With 'Fleabrain Loves Franny,' Joanne Rocklin has brought into being perhaps the tiniest and most accomplished hero yet: a dashing, erudite, multilingual flea"
"Convincingly set in Pittsburgh in the early 1950s, when scientists were working on a polio vaccine, and attitudes toward people with disabilities were quite different from today’s, Rocklin’s story is a conscious homage to Charlotte’s Web, many a voracious reader’s favorite book."
"With keen insight into human (and insect) relations, Rocklin creates believable, three-dimensional characters—Franny’s goody-two-shoes older sister, for example, and Franny’s old gang of friends, fearful of contagion—that help anchor the off-the-wall-fantastical elements."
"A good choice for kids who like their history with a sprinkling of whimsy."
"This book is smart, funny, and very odd; it’s a love letter to reading and to the life-saving power of imagination."
"Strong characterization will make this story a favorite, and the smart, funny writing will attract readers."