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Kid Konnection: Countdown

August 28, 2010

It’s 1962, and it seems the world has gone crazy along with eleven year old Franny’s life.  The Civil Rights Movement is changing things in the U. S. and the U. S. and the Soviet Union are in the midst of the Cold War.  Franny’s father is stationed at Andrews Air Force base, so the whole community is tense during the Cuban Missile Crisis.  Her eighteen year old sister wants to make the world a better place, so Franny doesn’t see her much.  Eccentric Uncle Otts is obsessed with building a bomb shelter – in front of the whole neighborhood.  Then there’s her best friend, Margie, who seems to be mad at Franny for some reason.  At times, it all seems like too much for a fifth grader to handle, but Franny knows she must.

Deborah Wiles, the author of Countdown, refers to it as a documentary novel, and I think that’s the perfect description of this book.  Along with a fabulous story, this book is filled with news stories, speeches, and photos from 1962, and I just loved the format.  For me, all of the extras just enhanced a fantastic story.  If you have any interest at all in the 1960’s, you will not want to miss this book.

I loved Franny – she had one foot in the adult world and one foot in the kid’s world and wasn’t really sure how to straddle the two.  She knew just enough about what was going on in the world to be scared, but not enough to feel assured.  Her best friend was trying to be cool and didn’t have time for Franny anymore and her uncle was acting strange so people were talking about him.  To top it all of, a cute boy has moved back into the house across the street.  It just seems like too much for one kid, but Franny never gives up.

I also loved the sense of time in this book – 1962 was like another character in the book.  I was only four in 1962, but all of the events in this book were very familiar to me.  I loved the photos and news items that were included and felt like they brought the book to a whole new level.

I don’t mean to gush, but I thought this book was just wonderful and highly recommend it.  Don’t let the YA label scare you away – there’s a lot in this book for adults, especially those who remember the 1960’s.

For more children’s books reviews, go to Booking Mama’s feature, Kid Konnection. If you’d like to participate in Kid Konnection and share a post about anything related to children’s books (picture, middle grade, or young adult) from the past week,  leave a comment as well as a link on her site.

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26 Comments leave one →
  1. August 28, 2010 5:44 am

    I really,really do like this one, Countdown. I am going to try and find it. Enjoyed the review.

  2. August 28, 2010 7:35 am

    I already added this one to my to-read list. Sounds like a must read!

  3. August 28, 2010 7:36 am

    I’m so glad you enjoyed this one! I did as well and I’m looking forward to the next in the series. It’s so uniqe and gives great perspective into history in such a fun way.

  4. August 28, 2010 8:04 am

    I couldn’t agree with you more! This book was fantastic! Thanks for sharing on Kid Konnection!

  5. August 28, 2010 8:32 am

    Wow, I’ll definitely look for this book!

  6. August 28, 2010 9:14 am

    It sounds a little like the Neil Armstrong Is My Uncle book. Sounds good!

  7. August 28, 2010 10:14 am

    This sounds terrific! I hope I have time to read it sometime soon.

  8. August 28, 2010 10:26 am

    While I’ve never heard the term before, I know exactly what is meant by ‘documentary novel’ and it is a style of plot construction I really enjoy. Great suggestion.

  9. August 28, 2010 12:14 pm

    The book really sounds lovely. Sometimes I read kid’s books. =)

  10. August 28, 2010 12:47 pm

    This sounds like such a fun book! Thanks for the recommendation!

  11. August 28, 2010 12:54 pm

    I love YA books and I think a lot of them are great reads. This one, I have a strong feeling, would be just the type I’d like to read. Thanks for the review!

  12. August 28, 2010 2:01 pm

    My daughter and I loved this book and we savoured it each night as we read together. It was also a great history lesson for both of us. Glad you loved it just as much!

  13. August 28, 2010 2:19 pm

    This is a great book and I will be reading it to my 7th graders when we start the Cold War Unit.

  14. August 28, 2010 4:07 pm

    Totally agree with you. I just loved!! the combo of text and photos and can not wait for book two. I’m very excited about this one!

  15. August 28, 2010 6:57 pm

    Love reviews of YA as I read it right along with my boys. Will check it out. Thanks.

  16. August 28, 2010 7:26 pm

    Kathy, this book sounds excellent; thanks to your review I will look for it.

  17. August 28, 2010 11:54 pm

    I loved this one too. Felt like it had a real different feel to it with all the photos and quotes and lyrics. And it seemed to capture the feel of the era.

  18. August 29, 2010 10:40 am

    This one has to be ordered when I get back to work next week!! Great review!

  19. August 29, 2010 11:17 am

    This one sounds like THE YA book for me. 1960s in the US is one of my favorite times to read about, so I’m going to look at this one.

  20. August 29, 2010 8:01 pm

    I love books that deal with kids just on the cusp of adulthood, so this sounds excellent to me. I will have to give it a try. Thanks!

  21. August 29, 2010 8:42 pm

    Sounds like a good one with a really specific point of view.

  22. August 30, 2010 1:42 am

    Well, sounds really good. Reads like a documentary….that is a new.
    I will look for it here.

  23. August 30, 2010 10:46 am

    I like the 50’s more than the 60’s but it’s still such an interesting era and I think I would like it best through a child’s point of view. This sounds like a great story!

  24. August 30, 2010 12:39 pm

    This sounds like a good one for The Girl. Thanks for bringing it to my attention!

  25. August 30, 2010 2:21 pm

    Loved this one too!

  26. August 31, 2010 2:03 am

    Wow Kathy, thanks so much for the great review and bringing my attention to this book. I love everything 60`s and it sounds like this book delivers!!

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