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The Face on the Milk Carton (Janie Johnson #1)

3.72  ·  Rating Details ·  43,731 Ratings  ·  2,180 Reviews
The face on the milk carton looks like an ordinary little girl: hair in tight pigtails, a dress with a narrow white collar, a three-year-old who was kidnapped more than twelve years ago from a shopping mall in New Jersey.

As fifteen-year-old Janie Johnson stares at the milk carton, she feels overcome with shock. She knows that little girl is she. But how could it be true?

Hardcover, 192 pages
Published April 13th 1996 by Delacorte Books for Young Readers (first published January 1st 1990)
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Diana Braxton Anna Dressed in Blood - Kendare Blake! Not only is it dark and scary, but it's very well written!
Lilah Yes! There are five books in this series.

Community Reviews

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man, there are some HATERS on this front page...

listen. if you loved this book when you were in middle school, it sure as hell wasn't because you thought the literary style was articulate and composed. it was because you were in middle school, and therefore an angsty teen who wished you too could discover your lame parents weren't actually related to you by blood. everybody wants to find out they've been kidnapped when they're that age! it's WAY cooler than just being born into suburbia and woul
so i had to read this for the "banned books" portion of my teen r/a class, and i am convinced that this wasn't banned by parents or terrible librarians, but by the students themselves who were like "noooooo , don't make us read this!! it is soooo ba-zoring!!!"

because it is. truly.

this could have been a five page book. "oh shit, i was kidnapped when i was three?? let me ask my "parents" and if they are not forthcoming with the info, then i will go to the library and do some research."

end of tale.
Dana Kenedy (Dana and the Books)
May 11, 2016 Dana Kenedy (Dana and the Books) rated it really liked it
Shelves: young-adult
From what I can recall, I enjoyed it a lot when I was 11 or 12 . I remember reading this book very quickly and being quite creeped out at the premise!
Maria Elmvang
Excellent concept, not-so-excellent execution. The plot idea is absolutely thrilling - suddenly realising that your parents are actually not your parents, but that you've been kidnapped, not knowing how to react, who to turn to or who to trust.

Unfortunately Caroline Cooney's didn't quite have the skills to pull it off, and therefore the writing seemed occasionally choppy and the emotions unrealistic.

Still, the story itself was really interesting, so I definitely want to read the rest of the seri
Jun 29, 2011 Sarai rated it did not like it
Toward the end of the book Janie has the thought that this situation is going to go on forever. I'm with you, Janie. This book went on foreverrrrrrrrr.

I listened to the book on CD based on a referral from a 5th grader during my school visits, who told me this was an awesome book. And I'm glad he liked it.

For me, it was excruciating.

She loves her family, she hates her family, she loves her family. She's a wretched wretched girl because she allowed someone to buy her from her family with a sunda
Mandy Crider
Sep 21, 2015 Mandy Crider rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My favorite book as a little girl! I always thought it would be scary to see my own picture on a milk carton and wonder if I'd been kidnapped. My daughter checked it out to read and I can't wait to see what she thinks of it!
May 07, 2008 Sarah rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adult
Rather contrived plot,it struck me as being the literary equivalent of a paint-by-numbers picture. It was almost as though the author sketched an outline and then proceeded to fill in the blanks (I know English teachers always harp about pre-writing with an outline but who really does that?)Besides, milk cartons haven't featured photographs of missing children for years so it is unlikely the current teen audience would grasp the reference.
Apr 27, 2016 Mariah rated it it was amazing
I can't believe I never rated this book! I read this in middle school and loved it!!!
Chris Blocker
Jul 07, 2014 Chris Blocker rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was in the sixth grade. We were having one of those Scholastic book orders that made reading so exciting. This book caught my attention. What could be more captivating than a book about a kid finding out they're kidnapped?!! I begged my mom to order it and she did. Shortly thereafter, the book was in my hands, and suddenly I was ashamed. I was a boy on the verge of junior high school. I watched sports, liked cars and video games. I was too cool for a book with a pig-tailed girl on the cover.

Mar 09, 2008 Rhein rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone 9 and up
Recommended to Rhein by: My sister even though she had only ever read the first chapter b
This book was by far the best book I've ever read but has some adult content. Even though it does it is a great book. It's about a girl named Janie (Jennie) who sees her face from twelve years ago on the back of a milk carton saying she has been kidnapped. The whole book is about her finding out if her "parents" had actually kidnapped her and her finding her real family. I am reading the second book out of four now and so far it is amazing as well.
Jan 21, 2009 Makenzie rated it it was amazing
I loved this book!! It is about a girl who finds out she might have been kiddnaped as a little girl. it kept u on ur feet, begging for more and keeps you longing to turn each page!! Read it!
Karina Magana
Dec 28, 2009 Karina Magana rated it it was amazing
In the novel The Face On The Milk Carton by Caroline B. Cooney is about how a girl named Janie was stolen when she was three, but she never knew. Until one day, she sees a milk carton that has a girls face and says that she is missing. She realized that the little girl in the carton was her.She soon has thoughts about if her parents are really her parents or the kidnappers.She soon discovers many things that she wished she had never known.She found out that her parents had a daughter and she ra ...more
Mar 25, 2008 Phillip rated it it was amazing
Phillip Ye 3/20/08
Mr. Nourok Writing Arts 903

Final Draft Book Review

The Face on the Milk Carton
By Caroline B. Cooney

At first, I thought this book was just going to be about a girl, who got kidnapped, and some detectives went and tracked down clues to find her. It made me think this book was no different than any other normal mystery book but I was terribly wrong. This book was a lot more than just a mystery!

This book is basically about a girl named Janie and she lives her life as an ave
First of all, I'm not big on the young adult genre. I read it because it's what's available, but generally I don't like it because most of the "young adults" I know are perfectly capable of reading "adult" books, but choose young adult books because they're shorter and easier. In other words I think it's a genre based largely on laziness. Don't get me wrong, the stories can be excellent; but the whole idea of writing easier, shorter books for young people who don't feel like challenging themselv ...more
Cody Kubicki
Jun 02, 2013 Cody Kubicki rated it did not like it
I read the book, The Face on the Milk Carton by Caroline B. Cooney. It was published in 1990 by Dell Books for Young Readers. Cooney is the author of many other books that include Driver’s Ed and the sequel to Face on the Milk Carton, Whatever Happened to Janie? Now, I admit I’ve only read this one book by Cooney, but based on this first experience there’s no way that I would ever read any of her other novels. Frankly, I’m not even sure why a publisher would agree to print this book. Perhaps the ...more
Olivia Ambrose
Apr 04, 2012 Olivia Ambrose rated it liked it
Olivia Ambrose ~ Challenged

“The Face on the Milk Carton” is the story of a young girl, Janie who finds her picture on the back of a milk carton saying that she was kidnapped 12 years ago. She must decide how she wants to deal with this and its implications. In addition, she is also falling in love with her neighbor, Reeve. I cannot decide if I like this book or not, I am simply neutral. While it was enjoyable to read, I was not thrilled about it. This is also a book which has been challenged, wh
This is the novel I've been teaching my high intermediate learners of English as a second language for the past eight weeks. I've never read this author before, and I probably won't read anything by her again if given the choice.

I had a hard time relating to the main character/narrator in any way, but the book contains lots of new vocabulary for the students. They were unhappy that there were no pictures.

Although I really didn't enjoy reading this, I did kind of like the way it ended. I feel l
Jun 03, 2015 Gina rated it really liked it
This was fantastic!! I love the Lifetime movie and the book didn't disappoint! I'm very interested to continue in the series to see if more aspects of the movie are in them! Fast and great read!
Mar 10, 2009 Jessy rated it really liked it
this book is really good I can't wait to read the next oh and kids no younger than 9or10 should read it.
Nov 03, 2013 Shaima_M_140-504 rated it it was amazing
Janie Johnson, a 15 years old girl, lived in Connecticut, United States. Janie had the most loving and caring parents, Mr. and Mrs. Johnson. One day, Janie recognized her picture on a missing persons advertisement on her friend’s milk carton. The description read that Jennie Springs, a three years old girl, was kidnapped from a mall in New Jersey, United States. Janie tried her very best to forget about the shocking advertisement. However, she started getting flashbacks of a woman and a few chi ...more
Nov 05, 2008 Steven rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Steven by: no one
This book is about how a girl named Janie was stolen when she was three, but she never knew. Until one day, she sees a milk carton that has a girls face and says that she is missing. She realized that the little girl in the carton was her.She soon has doughts about if her parents are really her parents or the kidnappers.She soon discovers many things that she wished she had never known.

She found out that her parents had a daughter and she ran away to New Jersey. One day that missing daughter h
Jun 20, 2015 Michelle rated it it was amazing

I was reading this last night and by Chapter 2, I was thinking, "I don't care what anybody says. Caroline B. Cooney is a great author. Period. Full stop. Not just, 'Great for young adult,' but just great." Then I get on here and everybody is slamming this book and Caroline B. Cooney. People are crazy.

One, Cooney's writing style, similes and metaphors, being in Janie's head while she's spiraling into Crazytown--all great. Two, anybody saying that Janie drives them cr
Sep 08, 2012 Trisha rated it it was ok
Although the plot made me raise my eyebrows - she sees a picture of her as a little kid on the milk carton as a "kidnapped" kid - I thought the story and the girl were just annoying.

I didn't understand Janie at all. She was whining and annoying - I have a teenager and she's got such a better head on her shoulders than this girl.

I also didn't understand the characters - Janie and Reeve didn't seem to really like each other and suddenly they do and then suddenly he's yelling at her in the car. Wh
Rebecca McNutt
May 17, 2015 Rebecca McNutt rated it really liked it
Janie's story is one that I loved as a kid; it was what I had right before I was introduced to the work of V.C. Andrews, Dean Koontz and Stephen King. It was not only nostalgic to read it again, but also gripping and suspenseful; it was incredibly well-written and filled with intriguing characters.
Jen Smith
Jan 05, 2015 Jen Smith rated it it was amazing
This book was one of my go-to reads in my teens but I hadn't read it in years. While it's still good and I am a sucker for the "what would I do if that was me?" aspect of the story, if I'm being truthful I think it was the disdain Jane Johnson felt for her plain and common name that I really connected with. Well, that and my lifelong desire to have red hair. And Reeve, who wouldn't want a Reeve?
Lauren DeStefano
Read this ages ago, in elementary school, but loved it.
Nailena The Mighty Panda!!!!!!
Jun 10, 2008 Nailena The Mighty Panda!!!!!! rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
Recommended to Nailena by: Ms.
The Face On The Milk Carton
Catherine B. Cooney

This book started out with Janie Johnson, at lunch. She was lactose intolerant so she could not drink milk. One day she was eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and she desired to wash it down with milk, even though she was allergic. Then across the cafeteria a child points out a picture of a little girl with a polka - dot dress and little pig tails. With one glimpse of the picture Janie knew it was her as a child.
But who was Jennie Spring? Jani
Oct 27, 2013 Raelyn added it
Recommends it for: Ages 14-18
I think that the book The Face on the Milk Carton was a good book. I would recommend it to young adults in grades 9-12. Janie Johnson is shy, and does not talk that much. She is not afraid to defend herself though. Janie/Jennie Johnson is a 15 year old girl. She has red, short curly hair. Janie's life is turned around when she notices a face on the milk carton one day at lunch and it look like her. It says "Missing" on it and the name is Jennie. When Janie/Jennie sees this she just starts thinki ...more
Sep 13, 2013 Kate added it
Shelves: reviewed-books
I decided to read this book as it was a book that my sister got for Christmas and recommended it to me. It was a great book with a very interesting story line. It is about a girl (called Janie) that sees her face on a milk carton at school and here quest to find her real parents and more about her past. She learns about Hannah
her so called parents daughter that ran away to join a cult and they haven't seen in ages. Once she finds her parents she must find out who she wants to live with and what
Kaylie Vrooman
Dec 04, 2013 Kaylie Vrooman rated it really liked it
The story "The Face on the Milk Carton" was an incredible story to read! I was shocked about how the ending had turned out. I normally don't enjoy reading mysteries but I really adored this one. The main character Janie Johnson, 15, has an inner conflict with a spiteful belief of whether he parents were the real deal, or some sneaky false kidnapper. Through out the entire story she has to stop and decide if she believes them or not. Then, she makes a tremendous discovery in her attic and is puzz ...more
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Future Teachers, ...: Emily Herrera Review #5 1 1 Nov 15, 2016 01:24PM  
2015 Reading Chal...: The Face on the Milk Carton by Caroline B. Cooney 4 39 Sep 30, 2015 06:25AM  
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Caroline Cooney knew in sixth grade that she wanted to be a writer when "the best teacher I ever had in my life" made writing her main focus. "He used to rip off covers from The New Yorker and pass them around and make us write a short story on whichever cover we got. I started writing then and never stopped!"
When her children were young, Caroline started writing books for young people -- with rem
More about Caroline B. Cooney...

Other Books in the Series

Janie Johnson (6 books)
  • Whatever Happened to Janie? (Janie Johnson, #2)
  • The Voice on the Radio (Janie Johnson, #3)
  • What Janie Found (Janie Johnson, #4)
  • What Janie Saw (Janie Johnson, #4.5)
  • Janie Face to Face (Janie Johnson, #5)

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“She was a mind floating in an ocean of confusion.” 14 likes
“She had gradually changed her name. "Jane" was too dull. Last year, she'd added a "y", becoming Jayne, which had more personality.” 10 likes
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