Thursday, September 2, 2010

Countdown by Deborah Wiles

Franny is having a rough school year. Her best friend is acting not like a best friend. Her sister is moody and secretive. Her brother is obsessed with atoms. Her crazy uncle wanders the streets calling out for soldiers to get into line and salute. And America is in the midst of the Cuban Missile Crisis, which for Franny means duck and cover drills.

Franny's story is compelling, with realistic emotions (moody, hurt and confused) and family dynamics. But what really placed Countdown by Deborah Wiles above and beyond was the author's use of historical data. Wiles combines school report-type essays, actual photographs and public service propaganda, and quotes from speeches and news reports to provide background and context for her story. What could have been disjointed, was in fact natural and necessary to create a complete picture of Franny's story.

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