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Countdown (10 Edition)by Deborah Wiles
Synopses & ReviewsPlease note that used books may not include additional media (study guides, CDs, DVDs, solutions manuals, etc.) as described in the publisher comments.
The story of a formative year in 12-year-old Franny Chapman's life, and the life of a nation facing the threat of nuclear war.
It's 1962, and it seems everyone is living in fear. Twelve-year-old Franny Chapman lives with her family in Washington, DC, during the days surrounding the Cuban Missile Crisis. Amidst the pervasive threat of nuclear war, Franny must face the tension between herself and her younger brother, figure out where she fits in with her family, and look beyond outward appearances. For Franny, as for all Americans, it's going to be a formative year.
"Wiles heads north from her familiar Mississippi terrain (Each Little Bird That Sings) for this 'documentary novel' set in Maryland during the Cuban missile crisis. Eleven-year-old Franny, a middle child, is in the thick of it — her father (like Wiles's was) is a pilot stationed at Andrews Air Force Base. Wiles palpably recreates the fear kids felt when air-raid sirens and duck-and-cover drills were routine, and when watching President Kennedy's televised speech announcing the presence of missiles in Cuba was an extra-credit assignment. Home life offers scant refuge. Franny's beloved older sister is keeping secrets and regularly disappearing; her mother's ordered household is upended by the increasingly erratic behavior of Uncle Otts (a WWI veteran); and Franny's relationship with her best friend Margie is on the brink as both vie for the same boy's attention. Interwoven with Franny's first-person, present-tense narration are period photographs, newspaper clippings, excerpts from informational pamphlets (how to build a bomb shelter), advertisements, song lyrics, and short biographical vignettes written in past tense about important figures of the cold war/civil rights era — Harry S. Truman, Fannie Lou Hamer, Pete Seeger. The back-and-forth is occasionally dizzying, but the striking design and heavy emphasis on primary source material may draw in graphic novel fans. Culminating with Franny's revelation that 'It's not the calamity that's the hard part. It's figuring out how to love one another through it,' this story is sure to strike a chord with those living through tough times today. Ages 9 — 12. National Poetry Month may be coming to a close, but these books should please young poetry lovers year-round." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
About the Author
Deborah Wiles is the author of the picture book Freedom Summer and three novels: Love, Ruby Lavender; The Aurora County All-Stars; and Each Little Bird That Sings, a National Book Award finalist. She has vivid memories of ducking and covering under her school desk during air raid drills at the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis. She also sang in the Glee Club, was a champion speller, and hated Field Day. Deborah lives in Atlanta, Georgia. You can visit her on the web at www.deborahwiles.com.
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