Reviews for Little Rock Nine

School Library Journal Reviews 2009 January

Gr 4 Up--In 1957, Little Rock faces a split populace as it attempts to integrate a high school after the Brown v. Board of Education ruling. This book focuses on two fictional teens: Will McNally, the white son of a local attorney, and Thomas Johnson, the black son of his domestic help. Their tenuous friendship is the lens for the conflict as each teen wrestles with the larger social implications of the Supreme Court decision. While the artwork is flat and the faces overly simplified so as to mute expression, details of fashion and decor help to emphasize the setting. Most evocative is the frequent depiction of African Americans silently doing menial jobs while the discussion of their roles and rights happens around them. A variety of perspectives and concerns are expressed, and only Will's grandfather comes across as a straw man for racism. The debates have an easy, conversational flow, and what could be a staid reenactment of a civics lesson takes on the character of an actual event. There is a difficult balance required while creating composite characters to work alongside actual participants and not supplant their historical roles. The book ends up more about the issues than the event that inspired them.--Benjamin Russell, Belmont High School, NH

[Page 134]. Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.