Great Illustrated Books

The Heart and Mind of Frances Pauley

April Stevens

Schwartz & Wade
Pages : 208
Suggested Ages: 8-12 years old
ISBN: 978-1524720612

     "Figgrottten."  This is the highly unusual name that eleven-year-old Frances Pauley invents for herself. As the reader may predict, the girl is probably as unusual as her name. That prediction would be correct. Figgrotten is very intelligent, introverted, loved by her parents and plagued by her older sister. Her best and only friend is Alvin, the school bus driver who loves books as much as she does.  When Alvin dies, Figgrotten is overwhelmed with grief. As she gradually learns to navigate her world without Alvin, she remembers his kindness and wisdom and begins to apply his lessons of inclusiveness in her own life. She realizes that now Alvin is everywhere, because he is in her thoughts and her heart. Guided by memories of Alvin, Figgrotten realizes the new bus driver is shy, not stupid and she begins talking to him.  After yelling at the new boy in her class, she apologizes by reaching out to him. Saying "Hi," built a "little bridge...that went right up between her and him.  And now she knew she could cross over. Just saying "hi."  Simple, yet profound. Alvin had told Figgrotten that every single person has a heart.  Figgrotten is on her way to proving him right. Steven’s middle grade debut is heartwarming and unique. Readers will learn a valuable lesson on dealing with grief in an accessible way. 

Reviewed by : Fran Hawk

Themes :

If you love this book, then try:

The Problem Children by Natalie Lloyd
The Ambrose Deception by Emily Ecton
Checked by Cynthia Cynthia Kadohata
Winterhouse by Ben Guterson

Critics have said

"Nothing short of magical." —The New York Times

"A moving depiction of unique characters, grief, and the benevolent power of forgiveness. "— Kirkus, starred review

“If a novel can show the growth of a soul, this one does it. Frances begins this story almost literally in a cave; she ends it with the discovery of how unexpectedly wide the world can be. To cheer for her growth—painful as it is—is to cheer for our own possibilities.” —Gary D. Schmidt, three-time Newbery Honor–winning author

“Filled with indelible characters, this lyrical novel about acceptance and what it means to be truly kind will resonate with readers on a deeply emotional level.” —Stephanie Hemphill, Michael L. Printz Honor Award winner