Cover Image: Lost Kites and Other Treasures

Lost Kites and Other Treasures

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Member Reviews

This was a fascinating read! I wasn’t really sure what to expect, but this coming of age story was a beautiful picture of life, both the good and the bad.
Franny’s life is always the same. She never goes anywhere or does anything fun instead living with her grandma who refuses to talk about her mother. But everything changes when her grandmother breaks her leg. Suddenly, an uncle she never talked to is coming to live with them, and things start changing. Will Franny’s life ever be the same again?
Franny was such a wonderful narrator! She felt like a twelve year old girl to me, and I really appreciated the fact that she did not have a crush on anymore. She was learning a lot about herself, her friendships, and her past. Her struggles felt realistic to me, and her voice was engaging.
The realism in this story broke my heart a little bit. Carr allows us to see family life for what it is. Nana’s strength was inspiring for me, and I loved her character growth as she expanded her life more and more throughout the book. Franny’s uncle drove me a little insane, but I also understood his perspective. This book tackles mental health as well touching on Franny’s mother’s bipolar disorder. I think it was handled well for a middle grade fiction, but I would recommend talking through what this disorder means with your children.
This book is lovely! There’s friend drama, family secrets, and just a general learning about oneself. I think kids will relate to Franny, and it does open up some good dialogue about how families and friends interact. This book does discuss mental health, specifically bipolar disorder, so I would recommend parents reading it first. Otherwise, I would recommend it for anyone who enjoys middle school coming of age stories!

I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book which I received from the publisher through Netgalley. All views expressed are only my honest opinion, a positive review was not required.

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Lost Kites and Other Treasures refers to the found objects Franny uses for her art projects. It also stands as a metaphor for her situation.

Franny deals with a lot of anxiety and when she learns her AWOL mom has bipolar disorder, she wonders if she’s got it too. There’s a lot going on in Franny’s life, and there are a lot of unknowns. But even though things are hard, Franny’s got a spunky strength that really talks to readers.

As the book progresses, Franny — as well as Nana and Uncle Gabe — undergo real growth. They learn to communicate and their own value within their family.

Author Cathy Carr doesn’t shy from addressing mental illness, and the need to discuss difficult topics out in the open. Her use of art as an outlet for healing is a highlight, and I wish that she had utilized it more throughout.

Lost Kites and Other Treasures is a heartwarming middle-grade novel that teaches empathy.

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Lost Kites and Other Treasures by Cathy Carr (Amulet Books, February 2024) addresses anxiety and other mental illness with a middle-school story featuring Franny, who escapes to making creative “found” art when things start to feel overwhelming. Although Franny tries not to think about her absent mother and the traumas of her early life (after all, life with Nana is fine), when Nana has an accident and Franny’s uncle enters her life, Franny begins to face the realities of who her mother is and why she is not in Franny’s life.


The “lost kite” of the title is a worn out plastic kite Franny finds in the very first scene. She claims it for a future art project, where she will make it into a meaningful piece of art. Her art an outlet that helps her deal with her anxiety. But things radically change and Franny must face real issues head on. Nana’s broken leg takes them to a new temporary home and now Franny must step up as a helper. She must learn to work through problems. Franny’s uncle comes to help too. Franny and her Nana have always avoided discussing Franny’s mother, but Uncle Gabe’s presence means that the long-held secrets about her mother come to light and the family must have difficult conversations. Can Franny be stronger than her mother? Can she learn to deal with her mental illness in a healthy way?

Although Franny’s emotional challenges seem limited to severe anxiety and dealing with some residual trauma from her early years, Franny’s fear that she will develop issues like her mother’s drives her to seek help from friends and to find strength within herself. The “other treasures” as mentioned in the title are, I believe, the events in life, both good and bad, that can become beautiful and creative moments, even as her found items can become beautiful and creative art pieces, worthy of the art show.

Lost Kites and Other Treasures addresses some key aspects of mental illness, including overcoming the taboo of discussing them. Although it is not the most remarkable book addressing these issues, this middle grade novel will be a great fit for middle schoolers looking for a book about a creative tween coming into her own while dealing with such anxiety. It’s so important that mental health issues are normalized.

I voluntarily read and reviewed an advance review copy of this book provided by the publisher via NetGalley. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for the e-ARC of this middle grade novel.

This is a great story about family, friends, and all of the perils they come with. I loved Franny, and her relationship with Nana is a lovely one. It is a great story about the troubles that come with keeping quiet about mental health issues, and the value of putting those at the forefront of conversations.

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Thank you NetGalley and the publisher for an opportunity to read this book ahead of publication date.

I really enjoyed this book. The genre is middle grade realistic fiction, and tackles a wide range of themes including mental illness, foster/kinship care, friendship drama, and anxiety. The main character, Franny, is in middle school and lives with her Nana, because her mother spent time in prison and her Nana has full custody of her. When her Nana has an accident and injures her knees and is no longer able to move around, Franny's Uncle Gabe moves in with them, despite being previously estranged from his mother.

There's quite a bit of growing and mindset shifts that Franny, Uncle Gabe, and Nana experience. In addition to the changes in their day to day routine, Franny starts learning more about her mother and gains some insight into why her mother is no longer in her life. Nana and Uncle Gabe also have to change but ultimately also experience growth, adaptability, and acceptance.

A great family story but please check the trigger warnings for sensitive kids. Recommended for ages 9+.

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I loved this book! Thank you to the publisher and Net Galley for the ARC. The main character is relatable to kids. She lives with her Nana and has not seen or heard from her mother since she was 4 years old. The curiosity and questions she has are normal for that age. She navigates some complicated friend issues as well as her complicated family issues. Well done!

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This was such a wonderful story of complicated family life, choosing open lines of communication over silence and secrecy, and the power of art.

Twelve-year-old Franny lives with her Nana, and their life is safe, predictable, and just a little tedious. When her Nana's accident forces them out of their comfort zone, it also forces them to confront their pasts and all of the things left unsaid in their family.

Franny was such a great protagonist - my heart went out to her, and at the same time, I thought she would be really fun to hang out with. Her relationship with her Nana was nuanced and real, and showed a lot about her character. I felt myself sympathizing with Nana as well, as she fumbled to figure out how to open up to Franny and move beyond her safe cocoon. Watching her push herself to tackle the hard topics, and Franny's reactions to this, was really great to read.

I also appreciated the character of her estranged Uncle Gabe, who returns for the first time in years to help out when he's needed. He was not perfect, and he had a lot to work out, but he was very real and likable, and I was happy to see his growth and how he interacted with both Franny and Nana.

And even though we never get to meet Franny's mom, she was a very real, three-dimensional character, too. Seeing her through the eyes of her mother, brother, childhood best friend, and the vague memories of her daughter, I got a clear picture of who she was - her struggles and her strengths. So well written.

Definitely recommend this one - Heartfelt, thoughtful, & FUN!

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Sometimes you come across a good book aimed at children, that both children and adults can equally enjoy. This is one of those. I really loved it. Why not read this book at the same time as your child and see what discussions it opens up between you. The story winds through many things:- Children growing up, the flux of friendships and the pains that brings. Supporting children’s needs in school and at home. Mental health issues. Families (at times that word says it all). Never finding the right time to talk about difficult issues. Finding the activity to set you free - here in ART. All of these things wrapped up in a heart warming story. Thank you to ABRAMS Kids and NetGalley for the ARC. The views expressed are all mine, freely given.

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Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for an e-arch of this book. I really enjoyed this book, and I cannot wait to share it with the children in my library.

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A strong addition for librarians, educators and families seeking contemporary, realistic middle grade novels that present mental illness, "non-traditional" families, evolving friendships and finding confidence in a creative outlet in a thoughtful, relatable way. 

12yo Franny sticks to all the rules for living with her Nana ever since she got custody a long time ago -- whether she agrees with them or not. When Nana has an accident that tosses everything they know up in the air at the same time Franny's circle of friends begins to shift, the reader gets a front row seat to witnessing how many people, relationships and family dynamics can be nudged into something new by one slip on the ice.

Moving, amusing and genuinely interesting, I hope this book finds its way into classrooms and home bookcases a plenty. Kids will either see themselves in Franny's story, or gain understanding and empathy for those who do.

For fans of:
Ann Braden
Erin Entrada Kelly
Lynda Mullaly Hunt
Wendy Mass
Barbara Dee
K.A. Holt

And more specifically:
Rebecca Stead's THE LIST OF THINGS THAT WILL NOT CHANGE
Tae Keller's THE SCIENCE OF BREAKABLE THINGS
Chrystal D. Giles' NOT AN EASY WIN
Kate DiCamillo's RAYMIE NIGHTINGALE
Lisa Fipp's STARFISH 

I read an eARC via NetGalley. (Pub. date 2/6/24)

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Lost Kites and Other Treasures is a precious book for the middle grades reader. Twelve year old Franny lives with her grandma due to circumstances that she learns throughout the book. Franny is quite the artist--usually with materials that others would consider trash.

The story is told from Franny's 12 year old first person perspective--through Franny the reader learns about Franny's estranged mother, relationship with her grandma, her uncle, and other family secrets. Throughout the book, Franny and the other characters learn about the power of change, forgiveness, and acceptance of the past and other things we can not control.

Thank you NetGalley and Cathy Carr for the ARC.

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I loved Cathy Carr’s first book, 365 DAYS TO ALASKA, and LOST KITES AND OTHER TREASURES is just as phenomenal. Heartfelt, funny, humorous, and serious, but never preachy or pretentious. It’s a wonderful book about family, friendship, art, creativity, childhood, and NJ. And the voice! I adore Franny, the main character, who is flawed but deeply lovable, and her grandmother, who felt so real and complex on the page. All of the characters did.

And the pacing is great—I didn’t want to put it down, and I finished it in a few hours.

As someone who spent several childhood years in northern New Jersey, I can also attest that the speech patterns, cultural references, and setting in the book feels 100% authentic. It was a very satisfyingly nostalgic read for me (yet it also felt current and contemporary).

I also loved the references to various artists, art processes, and art history.

Highly recommended!!

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Carr does a wonderful job of creating 12 year old Franny's world!
This middle grade novel will resonate with students who also deal with complicated family relationships as well as those who struggle with their own mental health challenges. I'm excited to add this one to our school library collection.

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This book is a beautiful way to come to terms with many different things in Franny’s life. When her grandmother hurts herself and they are forced to move into a rental house Franny is not quite sure what to expect. She knows that she loves to create art with things others might find to be junk. Her grandmother seems to think so, yet in putting together lost thing Franny gives new life to things others have forgotten. Which is perfect for Franny since she feels like she personally has so many lost things. The biggest being her mother. She knows her mother gave her up for the right reasons but it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t hurt. When her uncle comes to help Franny and her grandmother out, Franny starts to pull things together. Is her grandmother’s injury a blessing in disguise.
This is just a unique book. There are so many different topics touched upon. It is a great book to show perspective. Also, how something that might initially seem like a bad thing can actually bring about positive change.
Thank you so much to Abram Kids and Netgalley for allowing me to read an advance copy of this title.

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Lost Kites and Other Treasures is a story that is needed in today's world. It brings to light how a creative middle schooler can cope with diverse family dynamics and mental health. Carr shows how talking with one another can provide insight and learn that you aren't alone. For such a fragile subject, Carr does a fabulous job at making it accessible for the average middle schooler.

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So glad I got to read this book- it is a treasure! Franny’s story captivated me from the first line. She lives with her Nana, who hurts her leg; there’s so much for Franny to sort through and make sense of. Masterful writing brings depth and insight.

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I loved Franny’s story. We need more books involving characters dealing with mental illness in their families. The middle school relationships were very realistic. I loved Franny’s creative side and the way art helped her deal with her trauma.

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Money is tight for Franny and her grandmother, mom is out of the picture, and best friend Ruben seems to have found someone to replace her. Then Nana breaks her femur and will be wheelchair bound for 6 weeks or more and things get really tough. Cathy Carr’s main character is likable and well-developed and middle grade readers will be rooting for Franny from beginning to end, in part because she is so much like them. Excellent choice for those in grades 4-7 and with its less than 200 pages, will be approachable for most readers in those grades. Text is free of profanity, sexual content, and violence.

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A good entry in the world of mental illness and the affects it has on the kids left behind. I enjoyed the inclusion of art and the power it has to heal and help. Fran's self-confidence is also amazing.

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All I have to say is READ THIS BOOK. This is an amazing book for younger readers to relate to. I think mental health is a very important topic and the fact that this book helps touch on this very serious topic, young readers can finally put words to their feelings.

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