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Freaky Fast Frankie Joe

4.08 of 5 stars 4.08  ·  rating details  ·  668 ratings  ·  138 reviews
Eleven-year-old Frankie Joe Huckaby, forced to live with the father he never knew, a stepmother, and four stepbrothers in Illinois, starts a delivery service to finance his escape back to his mother in Texas, not realizing he is making a better life for himself than he ever had with her.
Hardcover, First, 248 pages
Published April 1st 2012 by Holiday House
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2014 Name That Book 3rd-6th
13th out of 35 books — 1 voter
The Creeping by Alexandra SirowyThe One and Only Ivan by Katherine ApplegateThe Penderwicks by Jeanne BirdsallFreaky Fast Frankie Joe by Lutricia CliftonA Tangle of Knots by Lisa Graff
Battle of the Books 2015
4th out of 31 books — 4 voters

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Community Reviews

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Really, it is 4 and 3/4 stars. Yes, it is THAT good. I could not put this down. Everything else had to suffer until I finished. It has been my goal lately to read more realistic fiction featuring male characters and I grabbed this one after reading a review. Oh, boy. This is one of those books in which you, as the reader, just want to reach into the book and give this kid a hug.
I am not going to recap the plot here, but I will add my thoughts. I will not get spoilery.
Frankie Joe is a sympathe
Barb Middleton
Ever bike in 32 degree weather? I have. I thought I was shaking my fist at old man winter. Then I hit a patch of ice, found my body levitating from the ground before gravity took over and slammed me to the pavement. I should have cracked my head on the ice. Or at least knocked the wind out of my lungs, but the padding from my backpack stuffed with clothes, two hats, two scarves, two mittens, two pants, and thick insulated parka cushioned my landing like a mattress. Freaky fast Frankie Joe is muc ...more
Realistic fiction for kids has more baggage than other fictional genres for that age group. Fantasies and comedies and science fiction get to rely on the extraordinary to weave their tales. Historical fiction, meanwhile, has the nice veil of history in place to aid the writer in making their point. What does realistic fiction have? Reality. Cold, cruel, dead dogs and incurable disease-ridden reality. When people think of middle grade realistic fiction their minds sometimes go to deeply depressin ...more

Professional Reviews
Freaky Fast Frankie Joe

( April 15, 2012; 9780823423675 )
Twelve-year-old Frankie Joe has a lot of new people in his life after his mom lands in jail and he is sent off to Plainview, Illinois: his father, the four half brothers he is now forced to live with, and a school full of kids all too ready to label the tall boy from Texas as a freak. Nevertheless, the hardworking Frankie Joe struggles through it all to emerge as a win
Frankie Joe thinks his life is normal. He lives with his mother who is always after the next scheme that will get her rich. She is gone all the time, usually on dates, and he is left with the retired people who live in the trailer part around them in Laredo Texas. Now Frankie is moving to Clearview, Illinois to live with his father (who he has never met) and his family because mom has been arrested on drug charges.

Once there, Frankie finds that he his resented by Matt, his half brother who use
In our classroom we have been reading and writing realistic fiction haven't we? Well today I would like to book talk this great example of the realistic fiction genre of books.

This book is called Freaky Fasy Frankie Joe By Lutricia Clifton.

This book is about a boy who gets sent to live with his father who he does not even know.
This situation is a hard one for a lot of us to imagine because we come from homes where our parents live together.
Franky is sent there because his mother is sent to j
Sheila Welch
Frankie Joe is a very appealing character. I found myself rooting for him to make it back to Texas and his mother even while I knew that wasn't likely to happen. Frankie tells his story in first person, present tense, which helps create a feeling of being there with this earnest family as they adjust to a new (temporary, hopes Frankie) member. The oldest half-brother is quite believable, and Frankie's unintentional place as the eldest son creates realistic tension between the two boys. Although ...more
This turned out to be a very satisfying story about a 12-year-old boy who has to come to terms with big changes in his life. He has been living comfortably with his mother in a trailer park in Texas and has to move to Illinois after his mother has to go to jail for 10 months. The move is difficult for him as everything is unknown, including his father, new step-mother, and four brothers. He struggles with the change, which is compounded by the fact that he is teased and called "freaky."

He opts t
Teresa Bateman
Frankie Joe was living in a trailer park in Laredo, Texas when his mother wound up in jail. While she may not have been the most reliable of parents, she was what he was used to. So when the father he never knew before collects him and takes him to a rural town in Illinois to live with him, his wife, and his four sons, Frankie's world is turned upside down. It doesn't help that his new brothers resent him and that he's put back a grade in school. While Frankie's a good kid it's hard fitting into ...more
Kelly Thielen
One of my favorite books of the year. Frankie Joe's mother has ended up in a bad spot - all a misunderstanding according to her - which lands her in jail. Frankie finds himself in a sticky situation. He is being forced to leave his friends, all retired older adults, who live in the Texas trailer park he and his mother live in and who have served as surrogate grandparents, taking care of him when his mother has neglected to. Now he is being sent to live with his father, step-mother and four half- ...more
I loved this book! It was very sad at times, but the ending was what I hoped it would be. Anyone who works in a school knows some Frankie Joes. The descriptive writing of what he was going through after moving across the country to live with his father and his family, starting a new school, etc., all while missing his mom who was in jail, was so believable. His mom, as described in the book, was always chasing rainbows. His father was a responsible caring person. I only wish that all of our "Fr ...more
I might have actually bought this for my school library if it weren't nominated for Bluebonnet. It's not awful.

Strengths: A very likeable, realistic protagonist.

Weaknesses: Gaping plot holes. Even a child will realize your loving parents won't let you lay in bed for 8 days with no food or water because you're sad. The author's unclear about the differences among bike tires, frequently inventing reasons characters can or can't do something on a bike because of tires which have no basis in realit
Audience: Intermediate

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Discussion Questions using Bloom's Taxonomy:

Remembering: Can you explain why Frankie Joe decided to start his delivery service?

Understanding: Write an outline of events from the story.

Applying: What questions would you ask Frankie Joes's mom if you could interview her?

Analyzing: In your own words interpret Matt's behavior towards Frankie Joe giving 2-3 examples to support your opinion.

Evaluating: How would you of handled moving to a new place, and n
Ms. Foley
This is a good realistic fiction story about family. It's very character centered and I liked how the family wasn't perfect. Usually you have an evil stepmother in stories, but Frankie's stepmother is really kind, so that was a nice change of pace. This is one of the 2013-2014 Bluebonnet books and it's the first of the chapter books that I've read. Between this and the 3 picture books we're off to a good start for the Bluebonnet list!
Jamie Davis
Frankie Joe's life is about to change in a big way. He lives in a trailer park in Laredo, TX and is saying good bye to his neighbors. Circumstances with his mom mean that he will meet his father for the first time and live with him for 10 months. Frankie's dad is not particularly talkative as they travel across the country to a small midwestern town in the middle of farming country. Just before Frankie arrives at his new home he learns that he has a stepmother and four half brothers.

Frankie Joe
I am pretty sure my 4th grade daughter liked this book more than I did, so I bumped it up a star. This book is a Golden Sower nominee, and the 8th of 10 books on our reading list. The story is about a 13 year old boy who, until recently, lived with his single (free-spirited, un-mothering to the point of neglect) mom in a trailer park in Laredo, Texas. Unfortunately (or perhaps not), his mother's adolescent activities range to the illegal, and she ends up in jail. His biological father comes to f ...more
I was pleasantly surprised by this book. It's well written, has an engaging cast of characters, and has some great moments--both funny and sad--in it. Frankie Joe is totally believable, his dad and step mom and half brothers are also quite believable. The dynamics between the 5 boys are well done. I thought the ending was a touch abrupt in that Frankie seemed at ease with his dad as "dad" all of a sudden. He'd called him FJ until that point. And, maybe since he had grown to like/respect the man, ...more
Kim Patton
I have to admit I judged a book by its cover and didn't think I would like this one much, but I was pleasantly surprised by this realistic fiction story about a boy whose life is abruptly changed. When Mom goes to jail, Frankie Joe quickly learns about his father he has never met, FJ, as FJ comes to Texas to pick up Frankie Joe to live with him and his "legitimate" family in Illinois. Frankie Joe soon learns he has 4 half brothers very close to his age. The oldest, and closest to his age, is jus ...more
Really loved this coming of age tale. It was full of heartbreak for Frankie Joe. At times (or really most of the book) I wanted to smack some sense into his momma for being so selfish and treating him the way she did. I was glad to be able to see him start to heal and adjust to life with his new family. I think this is definitely a story that some of my students will be able to relate to (unfortunately...that they some have first hand knowledge of that kind of situation) and look forward to shar ...more
Tenille Shade
Several students recommended I read this book months ago, and I wish I had picked it up then. Perhaps certain books come into our lives right when we need them. The story of Frankie Joe is actually a story about wanting to be wanted. When Frankie Joe's mom get thrown in jail for selling dope, the courts find his birth father, and he is sent to Clearview, Illinois to live with strangers. He has four half siblings who aren't happy about a new brother, and the oldest, Matt, is threatened by Frankie ...more
Shanshad Whelan
I thought this was a very well written and engaging story about a boy who is sent to live with a family he's never met, all the while yearning to escape back to the life he's known with his mother. I do admit that as an adult it was pretty easy to guess what was going to happen to Frankie Joe. The ending was not a surprise, but it was a touching book.

My problem. Maybe someone else can clear this up for me, but I for the life of me cannot decide what the time period in this story is intended to b
When his mother is sent to jail Frankie Joe is forced to leave his home in Laredo, Texas and all his friends to move to Clearview, Illinois with a father, step-mother and four half-brothers he has never met or known about. Life in Clearview is different. He doesn't have as much freedom; he has to go to school, do chores and report his activities to his father. Frankie Joe plans to run away and ride his bike all the way back to Texas. He needs money to take on the road so he starts a bike deliver ...more
Teresa Garrett
Frankie Joe's has been sent to live with his father and stepmother following his mother's arrest. Leaving his home and friends behind in Laredo, Texas Frankie Joe moves to Clearview, Illinois with a family he never knew he had including his four brothers: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. His step mom Lizzie works very hard to include him in all aspects of their family including established routines and traditions like: chores, after-school activities and Saturday tutoring. Despite everything Franki ...more
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5th gr & up
This book made my heart ache a little- in a good way.
Twelve-year old Frankie Joe adores his mother. Sure, his single mom constantly makes bad choices in her quest for a quick buck, she tends to leave him on his own for days on end, and she's not so great at providing the basic necessities, but Frankie Joe knows she loves him and the two of them are meant to take on the world together.
When his mom takes one too many shortcuts in her quest for easy money and ends up in jail for drug
Lisa Calvert
Frankie Joe has an inner strength and goodness that overcomes it all. What on the surface seems like a typical broken family story morphs into a touching picture of a kid making sense of the mistakes the grownups around him have made. No one is perfect here, the teachers, long-lost dad, the bratty brother, but the heart...oh the this imperfect story will make you fall in love with this book. There's no shortage of real compassion here and it shows. Five+ stars...a true gem.
Frankie Joe is a likeable character. As a twelve year-old, some of his closest friends are senior citizens. He is caring and compassionate, especially to his mother, who seems to make one bad choice after another. Her most recent bad choice lands her in jail with a 9 month sentence, and Frankie Joe has to move from Laredo, Texas to Clearview,Illinois to live with the father that he has never really known. Along with his dad, he has a new stepmom and four "legitimate" Huckaby half brothers. Frank ...more
Addison Children
Frankie Joe is forced to leave his home in Texas to live with his estranged father in Northern Illinois when his mother lands in prison. Frankie Joe feels unwanted in Illinois, though his father, step-mother, and other adults seem very attentive, his four half-brothers make it clear they don't want him, particularly the eldest, who has just lost that rank. Check it out.
This one is not the best of 2013's Bluebonnet crop, but certainly not the worst. It has a nice premise, but I couldn't help but blame Frankie Joe's father for letting his sons become such twerps. Even after the sons warm up to Frankie Joe and accept him into the family, I was still left with a feeling of dislike for his family. The conclusion of the story felt rushed. Matt and Frankie Joe become friends seemingly over night- and at the same time, Frankie Joe gets over his mother's abandonment mu ...more
Charlou Lunsford
Frankie Joe, 12, has a new family, a new school, a new life. His mom is in prison and his dad brings him from Texas to small town rural Illinois to live with his stepmom and four stepbrothers. It's the usual and the expected done very well. A kid you can relate to, good parents that are trying, and the best in small town community. William Allen White 2014/15
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