Reviews for Countdown : Library Edition

Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2011 #6
Eleven-year-old Air Force brat Franny Chapman stars in Wiles's documentary novel about shifting friendships, first crushes, and family loyalty, set during the volatile days of the Cuban Missile Crisis. In this audio version, Galvin voices each of the book's many characters convincingly: Franny, emotions roiling; her mother, all brusque efficiency; Uncle Otts, ever unpredictable; and Margie, who goes from loyal friend to betrayer and back. It's a shame for the audience to miss out on seeing the printed book's many expertly placed archival photographs. However, performances of the speeches, news headlines, propaganda, and slogans -- Duck and Cover! -- do enhance the story, and the actors are up to the task (a so-so JFK impersonation notwithstanding). Background sound effects, including typewriters clacking and newsreels ticking, nicely underscore the time period while effectively enhancing listeners' "this just in!" experience. elissa gershowitz Copyright 2011 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.

School Library Journal Reviews 2011 May

Gr 5-8--It's 1962, the height of the Cold War, and Franny Chapman and her family live in Camp Springs, Maryland. It's near her father's work as a pilot at Andrews Air Force Base and unnervingly close to Washington, DC. It's a turbulent time when the threat of a nuclear war is all too real and the Civil Rights Movement is disturbing the status quo. Listeners are immersed in the era through the words of 11-year-old Franny in Deborah Wiles's novel (Scholastic, 2010), compellingly performed by Emma Galvin. Franny's life is filled with concerns, triumphs, disasters, family, and friends, and it is all made real in Galvin's nuanced and credible reading. Commercials, clips of speeches by President Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr., news broadcasts, song lyrics, and more are interspersed to further bring the era to life and augment the emotional turbulence. Franny shares what she learns in school through her research for reports (e.g., background on Pete Seeger and Fannie Lou Hamer), which takes her out of character. Younger students may need additional background to make sense of the period inserts, but Franny's experiences and emotions will resonate with listeners. This piece of historical fiction is the first title in a projected trilogy.--Maria Salvadore, formerly Washington DC Public Library

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