Countdown Book Review
Countdown by Deborah Wiles is set in the year 1962. The main character is a 12-year-old girl named Franny Chapman who lives in Washington, DC. Not only does Franny have to deal with personal problems, like where she fits in with her family, everyone is scared because of the Cuban Missile Crisis, which threatens nuclear war.
Courtesy of Scholastic
In Countdown, Franny's caught between an older sister who's busy growing up and a little brother who seems perfect. Lots of kids are going to be able to relate to Franny's frustrations about being the middle child. She feels singled out and made to do "everything" around the house while her siblings do nothing - what kid hasn't felt that way?! To top if off, her Uncle Otts lives with them, and he really embarrasses Franny when he yells at her friends like they were soldiers. Plus, Franny's so-called BFF is either ignoring her or making fun of her.
But beyond Franny's family and school life, there are bigger problems to worry about. After her family listens to President Kennedy's speech telling them about Russian missiles in Cuba, everything in her life changes. Her brother gets scared, her dad gets angry and her sister disappears. Franny is left to try to work it all out while watching others around her do the same.
The Bottom Line
Not only is Countdown a great story, it's also got tons of historical facts in it that are really interesting to learn about. Between the chapters there are photos of real political figures from the 1960s, song lyrics, speeches, biographies, etc. You'll really learn a lot about the Cuban Missile Crisis and the Civil Rights Movement. It's a fun way to learn!
Video: Countdown, a new documentary novel
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