Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Karma Bites, by Stacy Kramer and Valerie Thomas

Franny Flanders isn’t exactly in love with her life. Her two best friends no longer speak to each other, her trippy grandmother has comes to stay since her parents split, and her mother is in meltdown mode.

In an effort to have more fun, Franny decides to dye her naturally red hair blond. Anyone who knows anything about hair dye knows that getting red to blond should be left to the professionals, and Franny in turn is left with neon orange locks. Not exactly the look she was going for. In an act of desperation, Franny goes to her grandmother for help. Her friend Joey reasons that since Gran is old, maybe she’s wise as well and can help with the hair situation!

Well, Granny does decide to help and frankly, Franny is a little embarrassed about the production that involves beakers, tinctures, olive oil, smoke, sparks and alchemy?! Somehow it works and Franny asks her Granny what the heck happened, but she refuses and simply warns Franny that there may be some side effects

What she doesn’t mention is that the side effects are of the social suicide variety! Franny’s middle school is completely divided by cliques and there is a set of unwritten laws about who to talk to, where to eat et cetera. Franny’s side effect has her talking to kids who shouldn’t be talked to and talking back to the Queen Bees!

When she finally gets her Granny to spill about her recipe for fixing her hair, Granny introduces Franny to the Hindi Help Box…a magical box that helps fix problems with different recipes. Franny can’t believe it. There are loads of problems in her life and her middle school that need fixing! She can’t understand why Granny won’t hand over the box and let Franny go to town.

But Granny is too trusting, and soon Franny is “fixing” the relationship between her two best friends Joey and Kate. She’s “fixing” boring teachers. And she’s “fixing” her dad’s girlfriend. But what Franny hasn’t counted on is the butterfly effect…the fact that all of this messing around she is doing affects everything else in her world. Can Franny fix all of the fixing that she has done? What are the outcomes of using magic to further her own ends?

Stacy Kramer and Valerie Thomas have written a breezy story that reads like a television sit-com with over-the-top characters and situations. But that’s not a bad thing! The underlying message of being careful what you wish for is loud and clear, but is presented in a thoroughly entertaining way. While Franny’s middle school has more cliques than I have personally ever encountered, the archetypes wear their characters well. The one pause I was given was with the character of the Lama who comes to Franny and Granny’s aid…he is given quite the Hollywood treatment and I wasn’t sure how to feel about that. But if readers take his character in the spirit with which he is given, I think that his character works for this book.Liz Burns over at A Chair A Fireplace and A Tea Cozy gets it right when she explains who this book is for.

Another fun piece of this title that needs to be mentioned are the recipes from the box that are provided ranging from the “Sensationally Sexy Smoothie” to the “Forget it Fudge”. Tweens looking for fun will eat this up!


Pam Pho said...

I just absolutely adore this book! I wanted to delve more into MG for the blog and when I was pitched Karma Bites I grabbed it up! I was pleasantly surprised. Great review.

Stacy Dillon said...

Pam: Thanks for stopping by! It is fun, isn't it?

Jill of The O.W.L. said...

I liked this book too :) fun and cute with a good message. I do agree tho - I teach in a middle school and I don't see that many cliques!