Rummanah Aasi
  Revolution by Deborah Wiles is this year's National Book Award Finalist and soon to be on many best of the year selection lists for children's books. I really enjoyed reading Countdown, the first book in the Sixties trilogy which focused on the Cuban Missile Crisis, and look forward to reading Revolution which concentrates on one aspect of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. Revolution is a great example of a really well written historical fiction novel. Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for an advanced reader's copy of this book.

Description: It's 1964, and Sunny's town is being invaded.  Or at least that's what the adults of Greenwood, Mississippi, are saying. All Sunny knows is that people from up north are coming to help people register to vote.  They're calling it Freedom Summer.
  Meanwhile, Sunny can't help but feel like her house is being invaded, too.  She has a new stepmother, a new brother, and a new sister crowding her life, giving her little room to breathe.  And things get even trickier when Sunny and her brother are caught sneaking into the local swimming pool -- where they bump into a mystery boy whose life is going to become tangled up in theirs.

Review: In Wiles's second installment of the Sixties trilogy, Greenwood, Mississippi is resisting to change during the Freedom Summer of 1964 just like Sunny who is having a very hard time adjusting to her new stepmother and step-siblings. Readers are offered given two alternate viewpoints from very different worlds within the same Greenwood, one of the white and privileged who are worried about "invaders" who are descending upon the sleepy Southern city and causing trouble and the disadvantaged African Americans who are fighting for their basic civil rights.
  As expected Sunny's point of view is very provincial, concerning about her family drama and her reluctance of opening up to her stepmother, but soon her world view expands as she tries to make sense of the upheaval of her city. Meanwhile, Raymond, a black boy from Baptist Town (known among the white citizens as "Colored Town"), is becoming increasingly aware of all the places, especially the public pool and Leflore's movie theater, he is barred from attending due to Jim Crow laws. Sunny's story intersects with Raymond's as the movement and call to the right of vote amongst African Americans becomes stronger. We even see Jo Ellen, the older sister from Countdown, take a stand for equality and her beliefs despite the dangerous consequences of doing so.
  Revolution is a bit slow moving, mainly because there is so much additional resources included in this book such as song lyrics of the time, biblical verses, photographs, speeches, essays, and other ephemera immerse readers in one of the most important-and dangerous-moments during the Civil Rights Movement. Though Sunny seems to be our primary narrator, the additional information helps the reader get a more well rounded perspective of the community. Wiles does not shy away from teh ugliness of the time period as she includes primary source materials, including the text of a real and vile pamphlet created by KKK members. Revolution is a great pick for teachers looking to use historical fiction in their classroom. There is plenty to discuss and many connections to both English and Social Studies curriculums. 

Rating: 4 stars

Curriculum Connection: English and Social Studies

Words of Caution: There is riot violence and racial slurs in the book. Recommended for strong Grade 5 readers and up.

If you like this book try: Crow by Barbara Wright, Lions of Little Rock by Kristin Levine, One Crazy Summer by Rita Garcia-Williams
4 Responses
  1. Jenny Says:

    I don't think I want to see that KKK pamphlet Rummanah. It will piss me off to no end I'm sure, but I like that she included primary source materials even if they do slow the book down a touch. Lovely review as always!

  2. Candace Says:

    I hadn't even heard of this but I recently read and LOVED a book that takes place in the same time period with somewhat similar issues. I'll have to add this!

  3. Oh I can see me getting ticked off with this one. At the same time it really sounds well researched. It does sound perfect for the classroom!

  4. I actually don't know much about the Civil Rights Movement other than its relation to Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr. so I'm adding this one to my wishlist, Rummanah. I love reading well-written historical fiction novels and because this one has additional resources, that's even better. It kind of sounds similar in writing to Cat Winters' books, which I love.

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