Wednesday, June 26, 2013

BOOK REVIEW: COUNTDOWN


COUNTDOWN
Deborah Wiles
Scholastic Press
2010

Available: Hardcopy, paperback, audio book

     The year is 1962 and 12-year-old Franny Chapman lives in suburban Maryland just outside Andrews Air Force Base where her father is stationed in the Air Force. Everything in her world has turned topsy-turvy. President Kennedy announces Russian missiles are in Cuba and aimed at the East Coast. Suddenly it seems that America is on the brink of nuclear war.
At school they have air-raid drills to practice how to “duck and cover” in case of a bomb blast. Everyone is afraid that this moment might be their last, including Frannie. On top of all this, fifth grade is turning into a nightmare. Her once best friend has traded her in for a new best friend. Her shell-shocked great uncle is constantly embarrassing her and all she seems to do is fight with her little brother. Plus she suspects her older sister is involved in something secret, maybe bad, and then she disappears. Frannie frantically tries to sort it all out, asking herself, "What would Nancy Drew do?"
     Each chapter begins with several historical quotes from the 1960s, a turbulent time in America's history. At first some kids might want to skip over them and just read Frannie's compelling story. But once they've been hooked by Frannie's world, the quotes become more than just a history lesson. And seeing this slice of recent history from a fifth grader's perspective is refreshing.


Target audience:5-8
Mystery/suspense: compelling
Kid appeal: that's a positive



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