Protecting Marie

Protecting Marie

by Kevin Henkes


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Fanny has wanted a dog all her life. For a brief moment her dream came true, but then her father decided the puppy brought too much chaos to his neat, ordered home. Fanny has never been able to forgive him for it.

So when Fanny's father brings home a new, older dog, she's not sure she can trust him. She reasons that perhaps she shouldn't get too attached, in case this one is taken from her as well. But how can she help falling in love with the perfect dog?

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780061288760
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 10/02/2007
Edition description: Reissue
Pages: 224
Sales rank: 835,357
Product dimensions: 5.12(w) x 7.62(h) x 0.45(d)
Age Range: 8 - 12 Years

About the Author

Kevin Henkes is an award-winning author and illustrator of many books for children of all ages. He received the Caldecott Medal for Kitten’s First Full Moon; Caldecott Honors for Waiting and Owen; two Newbery Honors—one for Olive’s Ocean and one for The Year of Billy Miller—and Geisel Honors for Waiting and Penny and Her Marble. His other books include Egg, Old Bear, A Good Day, Chrysanthemum, and the beloved Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse. Kevin Henkes lives with his family in Madison, Wisconsin.


Madison, Wisconsin

Date of Birth:

November 27, 1960

Place of Birth:

Racine, Wisconsin


University of Wisconsin, Madison

Read an Excerpt

Chapter one

Fanny Swann popped the only red balloon, pretending that it was her father's heart. And then, within a matter of minutes, her anger dissolved into tears. After slapping at the remaining balloons, Fanny turned toward her mother, wrapping herself around her, burying her face in her mother's fancy dress.

"It's because of me," Fanny said between sniffles. "I know it's because of me."

"It's not because of you," Ellen Cross told her daughter. "Don't think that for another second." Ellen stroked Fanny's hair, pulling her fingers through it like a comb.

"I'm messing your dress," Fanny said, stepping away from her mother and wiping her nose on her sleeve.

"Don't worry about my dress."

"When will he come back?" Fanny asked, almost whispering. She looked at her mother up and down while she waited for an answer.

Usually her mother's long, thick, gray-streaked hair was drawn back into a ponytail that always managed to spill over her right shoulder and curve toward her neck. That night, Ellen's hair was twisted with a tinsel garland and small red berries into an elegant bun.

"Does it look stupid? Does it look like a Danish pastry?" Ellen had asked Fanny as she worked on her hair in the bathroom only hours earlier.

"It looks beautiful," Fanny had responded, her eyes frozen on her mother, mesmerized by her mother's ability to create extraordinary effects out of things that were nothing very special on their own. The tinsel garland was just a scrap that had been lying on the stairs; the berries were froma scraggly bush in the backyard.

Ellen's dress was satin. It was bloodred with flecks of yellow and green worked into the fabric here and there. The blending of the colors reminded Fanny of an apple turning. Her shoes were red also, with straps that buckled and heels that clicked on the bathroom floor.

"You look gorgeous," Fanny had said somewhat wistfully, as though she knew her mother's beauty could rub off on her daughter only by magic. Something Fanny did not believe in, except in books. "And you smell nice, too. What is it?"

"Oh, I'm not really sure. A little of this, a little of that."

"And add that to your already fragrant body odor," Fanny had joked, "and there you are -- a masterpiece."

"You are the masterpiece. You are the perfect one."

"Right," Fanny had said sarcastically, jumping up to plant a kiss on her mother's cheek.

Catching glimpses of herself in the bathroom mirror as she watched her mother confirmed it all over again. Fanny looked a lot like her father. She often wondered why she had to resemble her father so strongly. Why not her mother? Fanny's features were her father's. They looked fine on him -- a sixty-year-old man. They didn't on her -- a twelve-year-old girl. Funny how a long nose with a bump, deep-set eyes, and a thickly furrowed brow can take on dramatically different qualities depending on whose face they happen to be part of.

Many of Fanny's parents' friends thought she was attractive. "You have a lovely Grecian profile," they'd comment. "Your eyes are so expressive, dear," they'd say. "You look pretty tonight, Fanny," they'd add. But all their flattery seemed false to Fanny. What did they know anyway? Many of her parents' friends were over fifty.

At school, Fanny felt extremely average. She did not belong to the popular clique. No one asked her for beauty tips in the lavatory. No boy had ever called her on the phone. And no one ever commented on her appearance, except for Bruce Rankin, who once said that Fanny Swann had a nose that could cut cheese.

Average. If you said it long enough, it sounded as bad as it felt. Average, average, average.

The one time Fanny mentioned her concern about her "averageness" to her father, he bristled.

"You are not average," Henry Swann stated, turning red. "It's your young, garbled vision clouding things. Hopefully, you'll outgrow it -- your garbled vision. Then you'll see how beautiful you really are."

Her mother was more sympathetic, but just as blind.

Who's the one with garbled vision? Fanny often asked herself.

While Ellen had tucked in a few uncooperative strands of hair, Fanny had slipped in front of her and faced the mirror square-on. She straightened her outfit. She was wearing black tights, a black turtleneck, black Converse All-Star high-tops, and an old, brown, stretched-out, V_ neck sweater of her father's, onto which she had randomly sewn dozens of buttons. The buttons were various sizes, shapes, and colors. I look like a clown, she thought. My mother is a goddess.

"Done!" Ellen had said, startling Fanny. She whirled about beneath the cool bathroom light like a dancer in a jewelry box.

Now they stood in the dining room, under the chandelier. Bright yellow balloons and green crepe-paper streamers hung down, moving slightly above their heads.

Ellen grabbed Fanny's hands and squeezed them tightly. Then she laced their fingers together. "I don't know when he'll be back. He didn't say. When he called, he just told me he wasn't coming to the party."

Fanny waited for her mother to say more. Things Fanny wanted to hear. Things like, "But I'm sure he'll be home soon," or "Surprise! It's just a joke -- he's hiding in the front hall closet," or even something as simple and meaningless as "Don't worry."

But she didn't. She swung her arms out, making a circle with Fanny. The balloons bobbled in the small wind, and Fanny could hear the tight rubbery sound they made.

Protecting Marie. Copyright © by Kevin Henkes. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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Protecting Marie 3.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 11 reviews.
NancyStorm on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is an interesting book about conflicts between a middle school girl and her rigid father who is an artist and a college professor. Good insight into the middle school female mind and emotions and some strategies that help her overcome the bitterness and distrust that build between her aging father, his personal beliefs, and the effects this has on their family. Not one of Henkes' best.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Mis u too
sweet0emo0luver0grl More than 1 year ago
im a picky reader, but this was one of the best books I've ever read!!!!!! i totally connected with fanny! I've loved animals, especially dogs, all my life! i have 5 dogs!this is SUCH a good book!!!!!! 10000000000+8 thumbs up!
Guest More than 1 year ago
It was a very moving book. I really connected with the main character and I think that the story is very good.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I like dogs and thought this was a dog story, but it was too sad and the author kept bringing up how sad Fanny was. This was the worst book Kevin Henkes has written, Olive's Ocean was WAAAAY better.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I thought it was going to be a dog story, but the dog didn't show until page 94. Why the four letter words are included in a fifth grade level book I don't know. Maybe it's the language learned at Burger King.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book sounded good on the back cover, but it was just too sad. I mean, all throughout the first chapter the author goes on and on about how Fanny cried and cried and how her dad was getting old and how she wasn't accepted by her friends. He could have made it more interesting and less teary.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is really great! But I didn't really understand, the first time, why Marie was such a big part. ?
Guest More than 1 year ago
I just love this book it really get's you into Fanny and Dinner.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book definetately had its moments. I think the author could have added a little more spice to this book, like what would have happened if the dog had babies with another dog?