Lions of Little Rock
Author: Kristin Levine
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile
Publication Date: January 2012
Genre/Format: Historical Fiction/Novel
GoodReads Summary: Two girls separated by race form an unbreakable bond during the tumultuous integration of Little Rock schools in 1958
Twelve-year-old Marlee doesn't have many friends until she meets Liz, the new girl at school. Liz is bold and brave, and always knows the right thing to say, especially to Sally, the resident mean girl. Liz even helps Marlee overcome her greatest fear - speaking, which Marlee never does outside her family.
But then Liz is gone, replaced by the rumor that she was a Negro girl passing as white. But Marlee decides that doesn't matter. Liz is her best friend. And to stay friends, Marlee and Liz are willing to take on integration and the dangers their friendship could bring to both their families.
What I Think: I first read Warriors Don't Cry by Melba Beals after I found it while wandering the shelves of my university bookstore. One summer, I wanted a good read and thought I would look and see what lit classes had as required reading. It is an amazing book and so interesting. I love non-fiction accounts because sometimes it is so crazy to believe that things that happened but they really did happen. I knew that because I loved Warriors Don't Cry, written by one of the nine African-American students to integrate in Little Rock, I would probably love this book. Lions of Little Rock did not disappoint.
I love how the writing is so descriptive in this book and really draws readers into Marlee's story. Even though the book takes place in 1958, the year after the Little Rock Nine integrated Central High, it feels like Marlee could be a 12-year-old student today. Her family dynamics and friend dynamics come to life feel just as relevant today as then. (I mean, the issues she deasl with are still very relevant today...but they feel so similar and not fifty years apart.)
Readers will love how Marlee is afraid of taking risks but how she learns to be strong and take maybe the biggest risks when she believes it's what is right and needs to be done. It's more than a book about integration, it's about being true to yourself and standing up for what you believe in even if it's scary. A really beautiful book.
Read Together: Freedom Summer by Deborah Wiles, Through My Eyes: Ruby Bridges by Ruby Bridges, Claudette Colvin: Twice Towards Justice by Phillip M. Hoose, Glory Be by Augusta Scattergood, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, Warriors Don't Cry by Melba Beals, The Help by Kathryn Stockett
Read Alone: Grades 6 - 9
Read With: Grades 4 - 9
Snatch of Text: “It was a beautiful day in September and I was standing on top of a diving board. The blue sky was reflected in the water below, the white board felt scratchy under my feet, and the smell of hot dogs wafted up from the snack stand. It was a perfect summer day - the kind you see in the movies – and I was positive I was going to throw up.
You see, it wasn’t just any high dive. Oh, no. It was the super-huge, five-meter-high platform diving board, the tallest at Fair Park Swimming Pool, probably the highest in all of Little Rock. It might have even been the highest in all of Arkansas. Which wouldn’t have been a problem if I hadn’t been afraid of heights. But I was.” p. 1
“Miss Winthrop was a glass of seltzer that had been pumped full of too many bubbles. Even if you skinned your knee or something, she’d say, “Oh, darling, there’s no need to cry!” with a huge grin on her face, as if she enjoyed seeing you bleed. “I’ve got a Band-Aid right here in my purse. Isn’t that fabulous luck!” p. 99
“’I think a friend is someone who helps you change for the better. And whether you see them once a day or once a year, if it’s a true friend, it doesn’t matter.’”
p. 289Mentor Text For: Activating Background Knowledge, Making Connections, Asking Questions, Characterization, Descriptive, Personal Narrative, Metaphor, Visualizing
Writing Prompts: Write about a time in your life when you disagreed with something an adult believed in and how you responded. Write a metaphor to describe someone you know by comparing him or her to a drink.
Topics Covered: Family, Siblings, Friendship, Shyness, Values, Segregation/Integration, Little Rock Nine
Jen *hearts* It: