Thursday, April 24, 2014

Cooney's Series is Still a Winner!

I have separate book clubs at school for my boy students and my girl students. I find it works better that way. Not necessarily because of book choices, but for comfort levels on both sides of the gender fence. My students prefer it this way, as well.

Recently, my girls' book club read Caroline B. Cooney's novel, The Face on the Milk Carton. I had been looking for a good book in our school's book room and not having much luck in finding multiple copies of something I thought looked interesting until I found this one...

This is not a new book. It was originally published in 1990, and it is the first book in the Janie Johnson series. I hadn't read it before, but I remembered my youngest daughter loved it when she was in middle school, so I called her up for a recommendation. When my twenty-year-old child can remember a book she liked in sixth grade, that's a very good sign. :)

The series revolves around a teenage girl, Janie, who sees herself in a little girl's picture on a milk carton at school. She begins to question if she was kidnapped when she was little. She sets out, along with her boyfriend, to try to discover if there are any secrets in her past or her family's past.

Here's a good book trailer my girls' gave a "thumbs up" rating to after reading the book:

Not only did I enjoy the first book, but I ended up ordering the second one to give to the girls last week when our book club ended. They wanted to continue the story and discuss on their own. I just gave it to them last Friday and most of them have already finished it and want the next one! 

While this may not impress you if you are an avid reader, I should mention that these students are reluctant readers. They do not simply read on their own because they want to read. For the most part, they thought reading was boring...until now! 

It has been so much fun watching their excitement over the books and discussing it with them in the hallway. At least once a day I hear, "Look, look what chapter I'm on! Have you read that far yet?! Oh, my gosh, I can't believe what just happened!" If another book club girl overhears the conversation, she starts squealing about where she is at in the next book. It is, truly, music to my ears!

As for me, I have to keep up because they want to touch base with me and discuss as they discover. I just finished the second one, Whatever Happened to Janie?, and I am already a few chapters into the third, The Voice on the Radio. I'm still enjoying where this author is taking us on Janie's journey. While I realize it is a middle school series, it is a really good story and worthy of my reading time (which is quite precious to me). 

I'd like to mention, too, that the covers on the books have been updated. My students didn't think they were going to like the book when I first showed it to them. (Thus, the saying, "Don't judge a book by its cover!") As I said earlier, the first copies we had were from our school's book room, and they were the old version. The new covers that came on the new ones I purchased through Amazon were, as my students' said, "WAY cooler!"

Because of how well the series has been received by my most reluctant readers and my avid readers, I've decided I need a supply of them on my classroom bookshelf. And, trust me, that is the best recommendation any middle school book can receive from me. When I like a series enough to purchase several copies and share with my sixth graders, you can bet it's a good one. :)

Well, time to go now. The Voice on the Radio is waiting to speak to me. ;)

Happy Reading!


  1. Oh my goodness! I haven't thought about that book for a long time, but as soon as I read the title, I exclaimed "I loved that book!" I can remember the story like it was yesterday!
    I read it when as a child, but I do not remember my age. I was not aware that there was a series though. I will be looking into for summer reading. Thank you for reminding me of this book, Kim!

    1. My pleasure, I'm glad you remembered it! I had several other students to tell me they had read the first one, too, but didn't realize it's a series. The fourth book was published in 2000 and was supposed to be the conclusion, but readers wanted more! Cooney first delivered more in the form of an ebook, which is a 'stand alone' original short story about Janie, that came out in 2012. Cooney then published a final conclusion in book form after that in 'Janie Face to Face'. I'm anxious to get to the very end to see if her style changed from 2000 to 2012 and curious to see if I will like the last one as much as I liked the first. :)