CCBC (Cooperative Children's Book Center Choices, 2009)
Over the course of her fifteenth year, Frankie Landau-Banks transforms from a bunny rabbit to a basset hound. Nicknamed “Bunny Rabbit” by her father, and treated like the baby of the family, Frankie is a slightly nerdy girl who’s used to life on the sidelines—until she develops a curvaceous figure over the summer. When fall comes, she’s the center of attention at her co-ed boarding school. At first it’s her appearance that’s eye-catching, but as peers get to know Frankie, they appreciate her humor, interests, and candor. Frankie manages to keep one foot in the door of her old world, while stepping into a new world of popularity complete with a permanent seat at the cool table and a clever and companionable boyfriend. Yet Frankie is not truly satisfied, or even happy, because there’s one door that remains closed to her—membership in the Loyal Order of the Basset Hounds. The Loyal Order is an all-male secret society at Alabaster Preparatory Academy with a long history of traditions and practical jokes. Not only will her boyfriend not speak to her about it, but he condescendingly believes that Frankie is not of the same caliber as his fellow Bassets. Undeterred and in denial, Frankie tracks the trail of the Bassets to hush-hush meetings, where she uncovers their secrets. Posing as a member of the Loyal Order online, Frankie begins issuing directives for humorous hijinks that raise the Basset legend to a whole new level. Although anonymous, Frankie finally feels like she belongs. In the end, she is exposed, but not before bringing to light issues of gender equality and freedom of expression with her peers and administrators. CCBC Category: Fiction for Young Adults. 2008, Hyperion, 345 pages, $16.99. Age 13 and older.
Kirkus (Kirkus Reviews, February 1, 2008 (Vol. 76, No. 3))
This cerebral and offbeat comedy of manners will appeal to fans of John Green's An Abundance of Katherines (2006). Spunky boarding-school sophomore Frances "Frankie" Landau-Banks is tired of being underestimated by the men in her life, including her upperclassman boyfriend Matthew and his wittier-than-thou friends. Inspired by P.G. Wodehouse's Code of the Woosters, she infiltrates Matthew's secret and exclusive male club—The Loyal Order of the Basset Hounds—and, unbeknownst to them, begins orchestrating their elaborate pranks. She hopes the boys will be awed by her ingenuity and finally acknowledge her brains as well as her recently developed body. But Matthew & Co. are less than pleased to discover Frankie's deception, and she learns the hard way that "it's better to be alone . . . than to be with someone who can't see who you are." Lockhart has transcended the chick-lit genre with this adroit, insightful examination of the eternal adolescent push-pull between meekly fitting in and being liked or speaking out and risking disdain. A funny feminist manifesto that will delight the anti–Gossip Girl gang. 2008, Hyperion, 352p, $16.99. Category: Fiction. Ages 13 up. Starred Review. © 2008 Kirkus Reviews/VNU eMedia, Inc. All rights reserved.
Robin Burns (Kutztown University Book Review, Fall 2008)
This story is told from the point of view of boarding school sophomore Frankie Landau-Banks who went from geek to chic the summer after her freshman year of high school. At the start of her sophomore year Frankie finally has it all, a large group of friends and the perfect, popular senior boyfriend, Mike. The only problem is that Frankie is not content to be the pretty girl on some hunk’s arm; she wants to be a leader. Frankie feels that her parents, friends, and boyfriend underestimate her and in order to prove herself she takes over the all male secret society of Bassets at her boarding school. The only hitch in Frankie’s plan is that nobody knows she is the one behind the Bassets campus pranks. Once Frankie is discovered the author examines Frankie’s rise to power from all parties involved in the pranks. I would highly recommend this book for both male and female readers. The subject matter is one that any teen can easily relate to. The tough choices Frankie makes will translate to teens on several levels. Category: Coming of Age. 2008, Hyperion, $16.99. Ages 13 to 18.
Jennifer Lee (The ALAN Review, Fall 2008 (Vol. 36, No. 1))
Frankie Landau-Banks, a sophomore at Alabaster, a prestigious boarding school, is tired of being taken for granted by everyone. Dad calls her “bunny rabbit“ and her family and friends don‘t really think she‘s capable of much. But she suddenly finds herself the girlfriend of Matthew, one of the hottest seniors on campus. Frankie finds out that Matthew is a member of the school’s secret all-male society, the Loyal Order of the Basset Hounds. Frankie is determined to find out what the Bassets do and how to become a Basset herself, so she follows Matthew and his Basset friends. In her own way, she is able to infiltrate the all-male society and send its members on many errands, setting up schoolwide pranks. The best part is that no one suspects the adorable Frankie as having a hand in it. A funny book that will leave you cheering for Frankie, you definitely won’t want to put this one down before she’s through. Category: Friendship/Secret Societies. YA--Young Adult. 2008, Hyperion, 352 pp., $16.99. Ages young adult.Louisville, KY
Karen Coats (The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, March 2008 (Vol. 61, No. 7))
As the baby of the family, Frankie bristles at being everyone’s “bunny,” protected at her posh boarding school by her older sister, but mostly ignored or not taken seriously. In between her freshman and sophomore year, however, she acquires some assets (read: breasts) and puts them to good use back at school to lock in a senior boyfriend and become part of the school’s coveted inner circle. She is frustrated, however, that her boyfriend Matthew won’t trust her enough to talk about his involvement with the school’s secret society, and that her hold on him isn’t as strong as that of the alpha male, aptly named Alpha, who competes with her for Matthew’s time and attention. Putting together clues from her father’s drunken reminiscences with old school chums, she uncovers some of the society’s secrets, and she sets out to be its covert head, using Alpha’s arrogance against him to accomplish her own behind-the-scenes power plays and up the ante on their anemic pranks. A certain arch quality to the narration that occasionally slips into a Twilight Zone-like voiceover creates a detached tone of inevitability to Frankie’s rise and eventual fall; as a girl in this boys’ club, she is fated to accept either anonymity or ignominy. Her choice marks Frankie as a character we rarely meet in YA fiction—an older version of Cynthia Voigt’s Bad Girls, a young woman for whom power trumps romance and even friendship, who leads with her head and not her hormones, and who is as calculating as she is intelligent. There are thus subtle and evocative connections to be drawn here between this and power explorations such as Cormier’s The Chocolate War, nuances of gender and power with disturbing implications, even though Frankie’s story is decidedly more light-hearted than Jerry Renault’s Review Code: R -- Recommended. (c) Copyright 2006, The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois. 2008, Hyperion, 352p.; Reviewed from galleys, $16.99. Grades 9-12.
Angelica Delgado (VOYA, December 2007 (Vol. 30, No. 5))
Lockhart chronicles the adventures of Frankie Landau-Banks-student, girlfriend, deviant. In the summer between her freshman and sophomore high school years, Frankie undergoes a metamorphosis. She tames her wild, frizzy mane, grows curves in all the right places, and hones her razor-sharp mind. Gone is her family's "bunny rabbit," and here to stay is one stealthy woman. When she returns to school in the fall, Frankie captures the affection of school golden boy and logophile, Matthew Livingston. The Loyal Order of the Basset Hounds, an arcane society of which Matthew is a member, piques her interest. The Bassets' claim to fame is their perpetration of mediocre pranks on campus. When a class paper plants a seed in her mind, Frankie sets out to enhance the Bassets' mischievous nature with a chain of e-mails, a treasure hunt, and the members' limitless credit cards. Lockhart fashions a thoroughly enjoyable tale of a good girl who aches to be bad. She deserves special mention for her ability to create likeable characters out of those that literature typically maligns-privileged, WASP-y males. Matthew and his cadre of friends are witty and buffoonishly humorous, and Frankie's desire to share their friendship and gain their approval is entirely understandable. The prose flows smoothly, and readers will remain engaged to see what new dastardly deed the heroine has planned. Fans will applaud at the conclusion as Frankie strides into the sunset, her head metaphorically bloody but unbowed. VOYA CODES: 4Q 4P M J S (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Broad general YA appeal; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 2007, Hyperion, 352p., $16.99. Ages 11 to 18.
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