Be Frank with Me by Julia Claiborne Johnson
Okay, do you want to read something that will not fail you? Something you’ll think about long after you’ve finished it? Do you want to be introduced to a character you can’t help but want to be around? It isn’t Mimi Banning, it’s her son Frank.
Mimi Banning is almost unlikeable. Mimi wrote a book decades ago that people won’t forget and they won’t forget her. She never wrote another and the one has become cult like. We get shades of Harper Lee here. Mimi lost her fortune and now must write again for the money. Her publisher sends an assistant to do all the things that need doing so Mimi can close herself away and write.
Enter Alice Whitley and her full time charge is Mimi’s son Frank. Frank is doomed. He is obsessed with old movies, knows all the stories behind the stories, dresses in 1930’s leading man clothing and is scary smart. Not your typical fourth grader and consequently, a bullied fourth grader. How many fourth graders do you know who arrive at school dressed as Sherlock Holmes? Or as Rough Rider Teddy Roosevelt?
Alice and Frank are constant companions but there is help along the way with Xander, a hunk of a handyman/friend and Isaac Vargas, Mimi’s publisher. The question we carry with us throughout the story and the one Alice is determined to answer is who Frank’s father is and is Mimi really writing the book she is locked in a room with?
As the story unfolds you are more and more in love with Frank, more and more puzzled and testy with Mimi, more and more suspicious of Xander and rooting for all of them.
This story is a treasure.