BookPage Children's Top Pick, June 2014
Following Countdown, Deborah Wiles’ tale about the Cuban Missile Crisis and the first book in her Sixties Trilogy, Revolution spotlights the Freedom Summer of 1964. During this volatile time, black and white volunteers from four major civil rights organizations joined efforts to register as many African-American voters as possible in Mississippi, at the time one of the country’s most racist and dangerous states. These “invaders” have been strategizing for months, but for 12-year-old Sunny Fairchild, it all begins the night she and her new stepbrother sneak into their Greenwood, Mississippi, whites-only swimming pool. They’re not expecting company, especially not Raymond, the “colored boy” with high-tops.
At first Sunny doesn’t understand the uproar when she hears about integration, civil rights and voting registration. Don’t blacks have their own churches, restaurants and schools? She witnesses white students and black citizens being berated and jailed for even attempting to register to vote. When the hatred turns violent and affects her own family, Sunny realizes that doing what’s right often means taking risks.
Readers get the true flavor of this tumultuous and groundbreaking summer as Sunny catches the latest Hayley Mills movie and her parents listen to Walter Cronkite report on the escalating war in Vietnam. But what sets this book apart from other historical fiction is the wealth of photographs, quotes, profiles and song lyrics on topics that range from President Johnson and the three murdered Freedom Riders to Willie Mays and Cassius Clay, better known as Muhammad Ali. For today’s children, these events will be just as much of an awakening to equality as they are to Sunny.
ALSO IN BOOKPAGE: Read a Q&A with Deborah Wiles about Revolution.