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The Face on the Milk Carton

(Janie Johnson #1)

3.72  ·  Rating details ·  55,573 ratings  ·  2,973 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 Press (first published February 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!…moreAnna Dressed in Blood - Kendare Blake! Not only is it dark and scary, but it's very well written!(less)
Autumn Francia Yes, this is the first book of a five book series.

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Average rating 3.72  · 
Rating details
 ·  55,573 ratings  ·  2,973 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
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 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
N.N. Light
Why I love it: I was shocked to see that one of my favorite books from the 1990’s is a banned book. I guess with the subject matter, people don’t want kids reading this. Listen, I don’t want eight-year-olds reading this either. It’s geared for teens and sheds light on a very real subject matter: child abduction. Back in the late 1980’s, there was a lot of child kidnappings going on. So much so, the government came up with putting missing children’s pictures on milk cartons as a way to catch the ...more
Feb 05, 2019 rated it liked it
Another young adult (younger even) read. Janie spots a missing child ad on a milk carton. It is her. How can this be so. Janie is in high school when she is meant to be enjoying life and finding her way, having her first boyfriend and having fun with girlfriends and sleep overs. Not all is as it seems and Janie delves into the mystery of her life. Things do fall into place easily in this short novel. Her neighbour and boyfriend Reeve helps her piece things together. There was a lot of to-ing and ...more
Dana Kenedy (Dana and the Books)
May 11, 2016 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!
Sep 21, 2015 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! ...more
Grady Hendrix
May 02, 2020 rated it it was ok
A long internal monologue that essentially goes “Should I or shouldn’t I?”

Turns out, she shouldn't.
Apr 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book was about Janie Johnson, a high schooler who had lactose intolerance, serious red hair, secret admirers. Every once in awhile, the factory of milk cartons put up an image of children who gets kidnapped. And when Janie reaches out to try her friend's milk, the image on the milk carton was of her.

I like this book of its contrast, how while Janie was trying to figure out what happened to her, romance and true love also struck her. And sometimes she can't have both.

I can somewhat relate
Scottsdale Public Library
Janie is lactose intolerant. She wasn't even supposed to be drinking that milk in the first place. But when she turns the carton over and sees the photo of a missing child printed on the side, it's a photo she recognizes.
It's her.
But her parents are so kind and generous, they can't possibly be kidnappers. This has to be a misunderstanding. But why is Janie suddenly having memories of another life with another family?

This gripping story will keep hold of your attention right through to the end
May 07, 2008 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. ...more
Aug 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
When Janie sits down to eat breakfast, she offhandedly notices the "missing children" photo on her milk carton. No one ever really pays attention to those photos, but this time Janie is startled to see her own picture there.....

Mariah Roze
Feb 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I can't believe I never rated this book! I read this in middle school and loved it!!! ...more
Chris Blocker
Jun 20, 2014 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 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. ...more
Jan 21, 2009 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!
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
Karina Magana
Oct 23, 2008 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
Oct 14, 2007 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 live
Aug 29, 2012 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
Completely Melanie
Jul 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own
This was so good that as soon as I finished reading this one, I ordered all the rest in the series! It's about a 15 yr old girl named Janie Johnson who while she was drinking a carton of milk at lunch stopped when she saw the missing child picture on it. It was her. This book follows her struggle as she tries to figure out what to do. I highly recommend this book! So good! ...more
Cody Kubicki
Jun 02, 2013 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
Trigger warnings: kidnapping (in the past), mentions of cults.

So this was published in 1990 and, uh, IT SHOWS. This story feels so indescribably 80s. None of the teenage characters talk like teenagers. They barely even talk like people, to be honest. There's a good two pages of the story at one point where they have a roll of tape and they're debating what prank to play with it, and it's all stuff like "tape the chairs to the desks in a classroom", which is honestly the kind of prank that 9 yea
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
Jul 02, 2017 rated it did not like it
1 star. The author had a good idea I suppose.

I was actually looking forward to this book because of the premise. A seemingly normal life is completely overturned when the MC finds herself on a milk carton that shows pictures of kidnapped children.

But reality was a slap in the face.

I seriously was bothered by the amount of time it took for her to confront her parents about the milk carton thing. When she finally does (view spoiler)
May 16, 2016 rated it it was ok
I did not expect the book to be like this.
I was really disappointed in this book.
The book was very boring and I felt like there was way too much romance and sex talk rather than an actual mystery about Janie's "kidnapping."
(view spoiler)
I didn't really like this book that much.
Sarah Theis
Jan 18, 2019 rated it it was ok
2.5 stars solely because:
1- the concept was there, the ideas were good
2- I was interested enough to read all of it to see what happened, as in how was she kidnapped?

2 things- I picked this up in the teen section, never heard of it before and thought it would be interesting. This book clearly is written more for kids than teens although it is about teens itself. The writing style is so juvenile and the random "sex scenes" (nothing remotely sexy or sex itself happens FYI) is like a 12 year old who
J. Wootton
Jul 06, 2018 rated it liked it
Suspenseful, cinematic, tersely edited: a success for the reader.

Would not pass a Bechdel test, however, and our female protagonist is barely proactive in her own story. The book's incessant obsession with boys is irritating at best; the indecision and angst feel appropriate, given the stakes, circumstances, and hero's age.

I picked this up on a whim from a charity shop, and now I want the rest of the series!
Sep 16, 2013 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
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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

Other books in the series

Janie Johnson (6 books)
  • Whatever Happened to Janie? (Janie Johnson, #2)
  • The Voice on the Radio (Janie Johnson, #3)
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