|The Lions of Little Rock|
by Kristin Levine
"Two girls separated by race form an unbreakable bond during the tumultuous integration of Little Rock schools in 1958. Twelve-year-old Marlee doesn't have many friends until she meets Liz, the new girl at school. Liz is bold and brave, and always knows the right thing to say, especially to Sally, the resident mean girl. Liz even helps Marlee overcome her greatest fear - speaking, which Marlee never does outside her family. But then Liz is gone, replaced by the rumor that she was a Negro girl passing as white. But Marlee decides that doesn't matter. Liz is her best friend. And to stay friends, Marlee and Liz are willing to take on integration and the dangers their friendship could bring to both their families."
I'm hoping that middle school students will like this book - it has an important story to tell. Having had the honor of listening to Carlotta Walls Lanier, one of the Little Rock Nine, speak at Blevins, it was interesting to hear the next stage of the story. The closing of the high schools in Little Rock for a whole year in an attempt to avoid integration. I thought the author did a good job of putting her characters into that situation. There was tension throughout the entire story wondering what would happen next. That being said, the historical parts were a little too preachy and long and some of the plot seemed contrived and too neatly resolved. But it is a good follow-up to Warriors Don't Cry.
Areas of concern: Racial tension and some violence. Nothing graphic or too scary. The "n" word is used quite a bit.
School Library Journal: Grades - 5-8
Publisher's Weekly: Ages - 10+