Reviews for Jump into the Sky

Booklist Reviews 2012 September #2
*Starred Review* Odella believes war is so close to ending that she sends her nephew Levi from Chicago to his father at Camp Mackall, in North Carolina. But she overlooks the treacherous journey the boy will face in the Jim Crow South of 1945, and the fact that her brother, on active duty, has no clue Levi is arriving. The train adventure is traumatic for the innocent Levi, and he almost loses his life to a gun-toting store owner in Fayetteville: "All I'd asked for was a soda pop. . . . But the look in that man's eyes had been pure straight evil." Then it gets worse: Dad's unit, an elite African American paratrooper battalion, has just shipped out to Oregon. Levi meets and stays with a soldier from his dad's unit until they join up with the battalion. Pearsall captures the soul and bravery of gentle Levi, who, along with the adults in his life, is never safe from the humiliations of bigotry. This poignant, powerful tale of father and son getting to know each other in small, delicate steps is suffused with Levi's yearning for approval. Strong characterizations on all sides support the weighty story line. Best of all is the fascinating tale of the "Triple Nickel" 555th Paratrooper Infantry Battalion. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2013 Spring
When Aunt Odella sends Levi to live with his father at an army post in North Carolina, Levi, thirteen, is both hopeful and wary. World War II is winding down, but as Levi discovers, his father, leader of a segregated paratrooper division, has a secret mission that takes them both to--of all places--Oregon. This homefront story is deliberately but steadily paced, and the Jim Crow era is well evoked.

Kirkus Reviews 2012 July #1
The tone is as welcoming as warm honey over corn bread. Ah, if only a coming-of-age novel could live by bread alone. Pearsall, 2003 winner of the Scott O'Dell Award for historical fiction with Trouble Don't Last, presents the excellently researched tale of the 555th Parachute Infantry Battalion, little known all-black paratroopers serving during WWII. Her tale of 13-year-old Levi Battle's struggle to find his place in the world during World War II should be the kind of book teachers handpick for their students, especially reluctant-to-read males. However, if this effusive, lengthy story is bread and honey, the flavor, drowned in similes, metaphors and foreshadowing, gets diminished by too much "writing." Strip away the excess, and you've got the tender story of a displaced boy hungry to connect with the war-hero father who is more legend than parent. Dumped at his Aunt Odella's because his father is at war and his mama has run off, Levi is stunned to learn his aunt is packing him off to his father at a base in North Carolina. The Chicago boy is plunged into the racist South, with its separate drinking fountains and oppression that hangs like humidity. The dawdling pace and obvious, militaristic similes combine to undercut its top-notch research and compelling premise for a disappointing conclusion. (Historical fiction. 10-14) Copyright Kirkus 2012 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2012 July #1

Pearsall's impressively detailed and voice-driven piece of historical fiction is set in the unstable year of 1945. Thirteen-year-old Levi Battle knows about abandonment: his mother left him on the seat of a car before skipping town when he was an infant, and his father, a paratrooper, left him with his Aunt Odella in Chicago after joining the military a few years ago. Now, out of nowhere, Aunt Odella has decided to send Levi by train to North Carolina, where his father is stationed. Levi has led a sheltered life, and the discrimination and violence he faces as an African-American in the South come as a shock. Unaware of Levi's trip, his father is long gone when Levi arrives, so Cal, an injured soldier, and his pregnant wife, Peaches, take Levi in. Soon, the trio heads west to Oregon where Levi is reunited with his father. Pearsall (All Shook Up) constructs a tense and authentic portrait of WWII-era segregation and prejudice. The well-drawn setting, dynamic cast of characters, and Levi's moral musings will command readers' attention. Ages 10-up. Agent: Steven Malk, Writers House. (Aug.)

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School Library Journal Reviews 2012 September

Gr 6-9--Levi has been left behind all of his life, first by his mother when he was an infant, then by his father for a job and later the Army, and now by his aunt for relief from the responsibility of raising him. Toward the end of World War II, Aunt Odella puts the 13-year-old on a train by himself from Chicago to North Carolina to join his father who is stationed there, without telling her brother. Upon reaching the base, Levi learns that his father's unit, an all-black paratrooper unit, has just shipped out for Oregon. One of the men is still on base recuperating from an injury. He and his family take Levi into their home until they can rejoin the unit. Slowly Levi and his father begin to learn about each other after their three-year separation, and Levi also learns the meaning of sticking up for who and what you believe in. Although the title leads one to think the book is about the paratroopers, the primary focus is on Levi and the wartime home front as the color lines were beginning to change. While Levi rails against the segregation in the South and the "invisibility" he finds in the West, the African American paratroopers are frustrated that although they are well trained, they are not allowed to fight for their country. This fine historical novel is well written and Levi is a fully developed character. However, readers looking for action and adventure should look elsewhere.--Nancy Reeder, Heathwood Hall Episcopal School, Columbia, SC

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VOYA Reviews 2012 October
Being left behind was commonplace for thirteen-year-old Levi Battle.  His mama, the jazz singer "Queen Bee" Walker, left him wrapped in her fur coat on the front seat of the car when he was just a baby with a short note which read, "I Am Levin."  Her misspelling became Levi's shortened name.  His daddy, Lieutenant Charlie "Boots" Battle, has made a lifelong habit out of leaving Levi.  He has spent years as a door-to-door salesman, a baseball player, and then with the Army.  In 1945, at nearly the end of the war, his aunt Odella has decided she has spent enough time raising him, so she has bought him a ticket and sent him from his home in Chicago to the North Carolina U.S. Army post where his father is currently stationed.  Levi's journey thrusts him, for the first time, amidst the mistreatment and difficulties of being black in the South.  Is it really possible that all the tales he has heard of his father's secret missions as a "triple nickel" of the 555th colored parachute regiment are true This well-written fictional account of the 555th, a highly skilled historic parachute regiment comprised of African Americans, was created from first hand stories.  It is a very interesting and inspirational read, well-researched and edifying.   The story moves along at a good pace, despite the fact that there is not a lot of action.  This is a great historical story with important notes of bravery, which will hook readers if enticed.--Ava Ehde 4Q 3P M J S Copyright 2011 Voya Reviews.