Author: Deborah Wiles
Borrowed from: Ann Arbor District Library
Goodreads Rating: 5 Stars
Review: The Cuban Missile Crisis is at large, John F. Kennedy is POTUS and the Civil Rights Movement is gearing up but through it all Franny is just trying to work through normal kid problems: her uncle is haunted by his past, she is invisible to her teachers, her family ignores her, her best friend hates her and there is a cute boy next door. Complete with air raid sirens and duck – and – cover drills, Countdown provides a glimpse into 1960’s America that those of us who did not experience it have never seen. Interspersed throughout the book are advertisements, quotes, song lyrics and photos of important pieces from the time. Authors note and mini-biographies included as well as references and resources for further inquiry. These help bring the terror of the time to the forefront. Franny finds her way among these obstacles and learns that sometimes if you look around, you have more people in your corner than you first thought.
Recommended for ages 9 – 14. First book in “The 1960’s Trilogy”.
Spoilers may be found in the following discussion.
I’ll be the first to admit that my knowledge of the 1960’s is mostly Civil Rights Movement related. Of course I know about the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, the important work of Martin Luther King Jr. (et al.) and the Beatles. But specifically? I know nothing about the Cuban Missile Crisis. I know nothing of the Bay of Pigs or most of what was referenced in this historical fiction account. I absolutely loved the inclusion of photographs, quotes and lyrics from the time – although some references may have been lost on me.
Franny is a like-able child – and I could see myself in her (although I’m never ignored as I’m the oldest!). But mostly, I honestly felt terrified that an atom bomb was going to hit America. At one point I thought to myself, “this is how my Mom must have felt” (she would have been 7ish at this time period). It’s easy now to scoff at it and ask did they really think that duck and cover would work? But you know what? You do what you have to do and if duck and cover is all you can practice? I totally get it now. (Plus we may be ignoring this fact now but WMD are still threats now.)
I love that the author included not only an authors’ note, but references and resources for further learning. To me, it is a great historical fiction book that makes you want to research more and this one fits the bill. I immediately scoured the internet for more information and wound up excited about what I was learning.
Gateway book maybe?
I have done some searching and it seems that the 2nd and 3rd books are going to be written. The 2nd book, as of yet untitled, is reportedly going to be published in 2013. I will definitely be adding this book (and it’s companions) to my collection.