What a good choice I made to read Countdown (published 2010) and Revolution (published 2014) for my birthday celebration! This wasn’t a shot in the dark since I am a fan of Deborah Wiles’s previous trilogy – a gentle trio for summer reading in the shade of an oak tree with a supply of apples. I was in for a surprise. Gripping replaced gentle.
Both books, set in crisis periods in American history, seem to interrupt the story with pages of memorabilia from their time periods until you realize those pages inform the story. Franny’s community in Countdown, living in fear during the Cuban missile crisis of 1962, learns to “duck and cover.” Tensions between her mother and older sister escalate as Jo Ellen insists on becoming involved with what her mother perceives as a radical group at college that may get her into trouble.
Revolution, set in 1964 with its “twist and shout,” finds Sunny sorting out her family that becomes more blended with every turn. The bigger issue becomes the Civil Rights Movement as it comes to Greenwood, Mississippi. I found it touching as Sunny recalls being six “when everything was simple, and I always knew just what to do.” Freedom Summer brings a yellow-haired young woman activist to town that reminds Sunny of her missing mother. The reader recognizes Jo Ellen from Countdown.
I’ve heard an expression, “too good for kids.” I’d never say that, but I would say, “too good to be limited to kids.” A win for Revolution would be no surprise to me, either once or twice, as it is on the long list for the National Book Award and in the Newbery Award chatter.
Thinking about the yet-to-come last book in the trilogy, I have questions. I’m heading to the SCBWI WIK 14 Conference in Birmingham today where Deborah will be presenting. I can wait on the first two questions, but I may elbow someone to get out of my way so I can ask her the third.
• Which character(s) from the first books will appear in the third?
• Which historical turning point will it cover?
• How soon will it be out? I hope I don’t have to wait another four years!