Saturday, June 19, 2010

The times, they are a changin'

The Rock and the River by Kekla Magoon

Sam idolizes his older brother, Stick. But when Stick becomes involved with the Black Panthers, Sam is conflicted. Should he continue to follow the non-aggressive beliefs of their father, a well-known and well respected Chicago Civil Rights leader? Or should he follow the more violent path his brother is taking, going against their peaceful upbringing? Sam’s struggle has him stuck between the proverbial rock and the river.

This work of historical fiction is amazing. The relationship between the two brothers becomes strained, but their feelings for one another are still very obvious. The lines between the two sides are often blurred, aiding in Sam’s confliction. At twelve years old, he is still just a child; however, he has been raised in the thick of the Civil Rights movement, which has opened his eyes to the troubles that surround him. While it doesn’t shy away from the hostility that the Black Panthers were known for, the book showcases the social and civil programs that the group strived to provide.

Hitler Youth: growing up in Hitler's shadow by Susan Campbell Bartoletti

This biographical non-fiction tells the stories of several children and teenagers who grew up in Germany during Hitler’s rise to power and World War II, and how their lives were ruled by a homicidal maniac. With intensive training from a young age, Hitler used the German youth to build his army. Many fell in step with his ideals of a Master Race. Some, however, did what they could to share the truth about Hitler and his war.

How could a nation of young people be so fully swayed by one man? This book highlights how it happened, and the stories of a few who had the courage to fight back.

This was a 2006 Newbery Honor.

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