Countdown by Deborah Wiles. Scholastic Press. 2010. My review: “This “documentary novel” shows the reader, throughout the book, life in the 60s, life Franny experiences. The careful reader will put together some of the clues, such as the mentions of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee in the documentary sections and then the abbreviation SNCC showing up in the story. The documents do more than show life as of October 1962: the biography of Harry S Truman relates his death in 1972, and President Kennedy’s assassination in 1963 is included. While the documents may give a “1962″ flavor and depth to the reader, these references acknowledge that the reader, unlike Franny and her friends and family, is in the present. . . .
Other things to love? The disdain and fear that Franny’s mother shows the divorced neighbor and her daughter simply because the woman is divorced, reflecting a mindset much different from today. The casual and constant cigarette smoking by Franny’s mother. The very familiar non-Julia Child food — instead of biscuits and cheese, one of Franny’s favorite dishes. my family made crescent rolls and cheese and I totally forgot it and how much we loved it until right now. Franny, herself, not quite sure what to do at times. The teacher who repeatedly skips over Franny during the readaloud time at school — and oh, the resolution of this is so perfect because it is about misunderstandings and lack of communication. Some would say that such misunderstandings and communication were part of the Cuban Missile Crisis. The family, sometimes flawed (like when the mother blames Franny for not being able to stop Uncle Otts from digging up the front lawn, not realizing or accepting she’s asking a child to prevent an adult from doing something) but always loving (despite Uncle Otts’s outbursts, there is no question that home is where he belongs).”
Why only one review in June 2010?
Here’s a secret. Since I knew I was going to be blogging for School Library Journal, I was saving reviews for here.