Twelve-year-old Franny Petroski never lets anyone know how often she thinks of the charismatic, troubled mom who left her years ago, any more than she talks about the unaccountable things Mom did while she was still in the picture. Life with Nana is safe and secure, and Franny’s innovative art projects fill in any lonesome times. But when Nana has an accident and Franny’s estranged uncle comes home to help out for a while, some long-guarded family secrets come to light. Franny has to use all of her courage, as well as all of her art skills, to come to terms with the discoveries she makes about her mother—and herself.
Excerpt from Lost Kites and Other Treasures
“What a piece of junk,” Ruben says. “Do we toss it?”
From the way he says it, I can tell that’s what he would do.
I hold up the kite and look at it again.
Sometimes when I find something I have an idea about what to do with it right away. Like this big piece of bark I found last spring on my way home from school. I painted it on the smooth side with sunflowers, which are my nana’s favorite flowers, and gave it to her for Mother’s Day. She liked it. Nana doesn’t like everything I make, but she liked that. She still has it propped up in her bedroom with the sunflower side facing out.
The bark was easy. I knew right away what I could do with it.
But other times it takes longer to figure out why some strange thing is tickling my brain. Maybe I should shove this bunch of plastic and splintery wood into the garbage can—but my art brain is telling me to hang onto it for a while. And Miss Midori, our art teacher and the Studio Club advisor, tells me to listen to that part of my brain. She says, “Franny, you can trust it.”
“I don’t know,” I tell Ruben. “I think it’s kind of cool.”