Saturday, May 1, 2010

Countdown by Deborah Wiles


"I am eleven years old, and I am invisible."

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Summary: It's 1962, and it seems everyone is living in fear. Twelve-year-old Franny Chapman lives with her family in Washington, DC, during the days surrounding the Cuban Missile Crisis. Amidst the pervasive threat of nuclear war, Franny must face the tension between herself and her younger brother, figure out where she fits in with her family, and look beyond outward appearances. For Franny, as for all Americans, it's going to be a formative year. (Summary from ecampus.com)

Scholastic Press; 377 pages

8 comments:

Laura said...

I am reading this right now, can't put it down!

Laura said...

I finished, and really liked it, what an interesting format

Mary W said...

I agree. This was a really interesting format. I also really liked it. There were a few references to things I didn't get because I wasn't alive in the 60s, but there are always some parts of books that don't make sense to every reader. The book was really good at describing the time, while still having a good story. I definitely felt like I was living in the sixties while reading the story. I'm looking forward to reading the companion novels that will be following.

DaNae said...

This is my front runner so far. I worried the illustrations might disqualify it but although they are not essential to the story they add a lovely soundtrack to play in the background.

Beverly Patt said...

And I think the illustrations are what will set it apart and stay in the minds of the committee members...

Martha said...

I just finished reading it and it is definitely a front-runner for me. I grew up in the 1960s, although I was a few years younger than Franny. My memories of the Cuban Missile Crisis are not that vivid, but I remember all the songs, commercials, and other memorabilia Wiles used to set the time and place. I remember "duck and cover" too, but I don't think the hysteria depicted in the story reached my state. Still, the book was very well researched and rings true. And the book design is definitely unique and conveys the mood of the times very effectively. It will be interesting to read the next 2 books that are supposed to come after this one.

tessyohnka said...

I love Deborah Wiles and thoroughly enjoyed this book -- I think the format is stronger than the story though, so I'm going to guess it will be a Newbery Honor book but not the medal winner.

Deb said...

I think the prose in Countdown is strong, with well-developed characters, a time period that becomes a character in and of itself, and a plotline that is full of tension in both matters large and small. I am looking forward to the next book in the trilogy. However, I think what makes this book truly distinguished is the design, and, according to the criteria, that cannot be taken into account for the Newbery, (unless it makes the book "less effective"). So, as much as I hate to say it, I can't put this as a frontrunner for the award. However, I do still consider it, (overall - because of it's unique design features married with a superb text), one of the best books of the year.