Authors: Jean Ure
For my editor, Rachel Denwood,
who sowed the seeds.
Everyone seemed to think it was my fault that Rags ate the rissoles. I always get the blame for everything! Like when I encouraged one of my best friends to try and trace her birth mother. Mum said I shouldn't have interfered. But I wasn't interfering! I just wanted to help.
Everyone's talking about Frankie!
“As soon as I opened
I knew this was going to be a fantastic read! From the very first word Frankie spoke, I realised she was going to be my friend.”
Imogen, age 12
“Original, funny and well-written, you just can't put
down. I loved getting to know the characters through the story, especially Frankie, and her here-to-help attitude was really hilarious. The book was a real page-turner; I read it in one night it was that captivating.”
Beth, age 9
“This book is addictive! It's funny and brilliant with great characters and a fantastic storyline. Frankie Foster's adventures are gripping with lots of twists â I could not put it down!”
Zoe, age 12
“FRANKIE FOSTER!” My sister's voice came shrilling down the stairs. “
Was this you?
Guardedly, I said, “Depends what you're talking about.”
This is what I'm talking about!”
She stood, quivering with rage, on the top step, waving a bit of rag. Well, at first glance it looked like a bit of rag. At second glance I could see that it was in fact her pink-and-white stripy shirt that I had kindly ironed for her just the other day. Unfortunately, there had been a slight problem with the iron; it had got too hot, or something. Obviously faulty. I find that a lot of the things I have to deal with turn out to be faulty. It is somewhat discouraging.
” Angel thumped impatiently on the banister rail.
I said, “Wellâ”
“I know it was you, so don't bother trying to deny it!”
I hadn't been going to deny it. I suppose I have my failings, same as anyone else, but I do try to be truthful whenever I can.
“There's something wrong with the iron,” I said.
“There's nothing wrong with the iron, you
“There must be,” I said. “It didn't do that to the other things. It was only when I got to your shirt it went funny.”
“Oh, for God's sake!” She was shrieking now. She does a lot of shrieking. “Eleven years old and you haven't even learnt how to use an iron properly!”
I resented that, considering I'd done a whole load of sheets and pillowcases without so much as a single wrinkle. I was proud of my ironing!
“Maybe,” I said, “it's something to do with your shirt.”
“Yes, you're supposed to use the iron on cool, you moron!”
I said, “Oh.” And then, “How was I to know?”
“It says it right here, on the label, if you'd just bothered to look!”
“You don't have to yell,” I said.
“I do have to yell! Yelling's the only thing that keeps me sane. It's the only thing that stops me putting my hands round your throat and throttling you! It'sâ” She stopped. “What are
“Excuse me,” said Tom. “I'm just trying to get down the stairs.”
“There's no need to
As for you, Frankie Fâ”
“What's going on up there?” Mum had come out of the kitchen, accompanied by Rags. Rags is our dog; he loves a bit of excitement. “What's all the shouting about?”
“It's them,” said Tom. “They're at it again.”
“I'm not at it,” I said. “She's the one making the noise.”
“You're lucky that's all I'm doing!”
“Oh, for heaven's sake,” said Mum. “What's the problem?”
“She is!” shrieked Angel. “Look what she's done!”
She hurled her shirt viciously down the stairs in a scrunched-up heap. What dog could resist? Rags was on it in an instant. Angel let out one of her ear-splitting screeches.
I made a grab, but Rags was too quick. He capered off joyously down the hall, shaking the shirt from side to side like it was a rat. Angel screeched again. Dad says when she does that it is like a car alarm going off inside your head.
“Rags!” Mum cornered him at the end of the hall. “
He wasn't a bad boy, he just thought it was a game. Any dog would have thought it was a game. But he always obeys Mum, I don't know why. He doesn't take any notice when I tell him to do things. I think it's because we're mates, while Mum is an authority figure. She can be really stern when she wants. Which, now I come to think of it, is quite often.
“Right. Now!” Mum held up the shirt. “What's the matter with it?”
“She's gone and shrivelled it,” wailed Angel.
“Only a little bit,” I said. “If you tucked it in, nobody'd ever notice.”
“I don't want to tuck it in! That was my favourite shirt, I was going to wear it on Saturday. Mum, it's not fair! She shouldn't be allowed to touch my things.”
“Frankie.” Mum turned to look at me. She didn't seem cross; just kind ofâ¦ resigned. “I told you to stick to simple stuffâ¦ sheets, pillowcases. Tea towels. Why did you have to go and mess with Angel's shirt?”
“It was there,” I said, “waiting to be ironed. I thought you'd be happy! I folded everything all nice and neat.
I put it all away.”
you went spying in my room!”
I just put it away for you.”
“Just tried to hide it, you mean.”
I hadn't actually tried to
it, cos that would have been dishonest; but I had sort of hoped that by the time she came across it she'd have decided it was just, like, totally naff and she couldn't bear to be seen dead in it, which is what usually happens when she's worn something more than a couple of times.
“You might at least have owned up,” said Mum. “Just admitted to an honest mistake.”
“Honest!” Angel made a loud barking sound. “Huh!”
Whatever that was supposed to mean.
“Look, just calm down,” said Mum. “It's not the end of the world. We'll get you another one.”
ought to buy it.”
“Well, I can't,” I said, “cos I haven't any money.”
“No, that's because you're still paying for setting the garden shed on fire!”
“That was an accident.”
“Are you saying my shirt wasn't?”
“Are you saying you shrivelled it
“No! I justâ”
“STOP!” Mum's voice came bellowing at us up the hall. “I have had enough!”
We both quavered into silence. When Mum gets mad, she gets really mad. Far worse than Dad.
“Just button it! I can't take any more, this time of the morning. I've got Mrs Simmonds coming for a fitting at eight o'clock, I don't need to be all hot and bothered.”
Mum works from home doing dressmaking and stuff; she often has people arriving at weird hours.
“Get yourselves ready,” she said, “and get off to school.”
Angel disappeared, muttering, into her room. I went through to the kitchen to eat some breakfast. I always eat breakfast. I once read somewhere it's the most important meal of the day; it gives you brain power. Angel doesn't bother with it, on account of being figure-conscious. The most she ever has is a low-fat yoghurt, but I believe in eating properly. Angel can be stick thin if she wants. I'd rather
have my stomach rumbling in front of the whole class, which is what happened to me once and was just, like, so embarrassing I wanted to die, especially when people started calling me Rumblebelly. Who wants to be stick thin anyway? She is at that age, Mum says. Fifteen. It makes her very angry.
Tom was in the kitchen, packing books into his school bag. I said, “You eaten?” but he just mumbled and went on packing. I have never actually seen Tom eat breakfast, but that's not to say he doesn't. He is just a very private kind of person. Very
I have this theory that Mum must have been abducted by aliens and that his real father is some kind of robot creature from outer space. It seems the only rational explanation. Mum says I'm not being fair; she says he is just shy. “Imagine what it must be like for him, sandwiched between you two.”
At least he doesn't fly into rages.
“Honestly,” I said, “talk about over the top! It was just a little bit of crinkle.”
I'd hoped he might sympathise with me for the way I'd been treated; that we might even have a cosy chat about Angel and her furious temper. But you can't really have cosy chats with Tom.
“It's not like I crinkled the whole thing,” I said. “Soon as I saw what was happening, I stopped.”
Tom grunted, and stuffed some more books into his bag.
“And that thing with the shedâ¦ I was just trying to fumigate it.”
“Cos of what he was saying about someone leaving the door open and the foxes getting in?”
“Saying it smelt bad, it needed to be fumigated?”
“I thought I'd do it for him.”
Tom wedged in the last of his books. “Surprised you knew what fumigate meant.”
“I Googled it!” I'm not stupid. I know how to find things out. “It's when you fill a place with fumes to get rid of smells and stuff.”
Which is what I'd done.
to do. I'd taken one of the big scented candles left over from Christmas and put it on Dad's work bench and lit it. I'd stood it on a saucer! I'm not irresponsible.
“I was only trying to help,” I said.
“Some help,” said Tom.
I'd thought Dad would be pleased. I thought next time he went out there he'd find a lovely scent of pine. Instead, there'd been a horrible smell of burning. Mum had been a bit cross. She said who on earth would leave a lighted candle in a shed full of combustible materials, meaning stuff that would go up in flames. Angel said, “
I felt a bit bad about it cos I had this feeling it might have been me that had left the shed door open in the first place. It might not have been; but it could have been. Which is why I very nobly offered to give up two weeks' pocket money to help pay for the repairs. I never thought Dad would accept!
“I still don't know how it happened,” I said.
“Yeah.” Tom picked up his bag and slung it over his shoulder. “A total mystery.”
“Well, it is!” I agreed, eagerly. It
a mystery. It's what I'd been saying all along, only no one would listen. “Might not have been my fault at all,” I said. “Someone might have gone in there and knocked the candle over. A burglar, or something. Don't you think?”
But Tom had gone. He is a most unsatisfactory person to talk to. I slathered some marmalade over a piece of toast and wandered up the hall in search of Mum. She was in the front room, preparing stuff for Mrs Simmonds.
I said, “Mum?”
“What? Why haven't you left for school? Frankie,
don't let that dog in here! I've asked you beforeâ¦ not when I have someone coming.”
“OK.” I squashed Rags back out and closed the door.
“And don't eat over Mrs Simmonds's clothes!”
“I'm not.” I moved away. “Mum, about Angel's shirtâ¦
didn't know it would shrivel! I was only trying to help.”
Mum sighed. “Yes, I'm sure you were.”
“You have so much work to do!”
“I do,” said Mum, “don't I? And you're just making even more for me, standing there dropping toast crumbs on the floor.”
“Sorry,” I said, “sorry! I'll get the vacuum cleaner.”
“No! For God's sake! I meanâ¦ it's all right,” said Mum. “I'll see to it. You just get yourself off to school.”
“All right.” I crammed in my last bit of toast. “Abow a garn shâ”
“I beg your pardon?” said Mum.
I swallowed. “About the garden shedâ¦ you don't think a burglar got in there, do you?”
“Not really,” said Mum. “No.”
“It could have been a burglar! He could have knocked the candle over. He could have done it
“Oh, Frankie,” said Mum, “just go to school!”
“I was only asking,” I said.
Burglars did that sort of thing. Seemed far more likely to me than a big fat candle falling over all by itself.
“Frankie, will you
“Yes, yes, I'm going!” I said.
I reached the front door at exactly the same moment as Angel.
“I hope you don't think you're going to walk with me,” she said.
I used to have to walk with her when I was in primary school; either with her or with Tom. Angel used to complain that Tom was always wriggling out of it.
“Just because he's a boy!”
She doesn't like being seen with me in public, she says I'm an embarrassment and that I cramp her style, whatever that is. I can't say I particularly like being seen with her; not when she's always flying into rages. It's like being out with a crazy person. I tossed my head and told her that she didn't need to worry.
“I'm meeting my friends.”
“Friends?” Angel snorted. “I'm surprised you've got any! Wait till you start shrivelling
We sidestepped elaborately as we went through the door. I took a pace backwards.
“Age before beauty,” I said. I thought that was pretty good. I'd been dying to use it ever since reading it in a book.
Angel stuck her face close to mine.
“You are a hideous child,” she said. “I find you unspeakably loathsome.”
She is totally mad. I feel sorry for her.