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The Lions of Little Rock

4.17 of 5 stars 4.17  ·  rating details  ·  7,736 ratings  ·  1,074 reviews
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 - spe
Hardcover, 298 pages
Published January 5th 2012 by Putnam Juvenile (first published January 1st 2012)
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Wonder by R.J. PalacioThe One and Only Ivan by Katherine ApplegateThe Fault in Our Stars by John GreenLiar & Spy by Rebecca SteadThe Lions of Little Rock by Kristin Levine
Newbery 2013
5th out of 116 books — 1,132 voters
Wonder by R.J. PalacioThe One and Only Ivan by Katherine ApplegateThe False Prince by Jennifer A. NielsenHigh in School by Salman AdityaThe Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom by Christopher Healy
Middle Grade Novels of 2012
16th out of 346 books — 611 voters

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Community Reviews

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Kady Mac
The Teaser: Marlee is nearly 13 years old and that means it is high time for her to get over her fear of... well, fear of almost everything, actually. A quiet girl, who greatly prefers math and numbers to words and people, Marlee lives her life categorizing people as what type of drink they'd be and following around the same Queen Bee bossy and popular girls that she's known forever. When the school year starts and Marlee meets outgoing new girl Liz (warm milk with a dash of cinnamon), she think ...more
This is a really powerful piece of historical fiction based on some real events. The year is 1958, the setting is Little Rock, Arkansas. The public high schools are shut down to prevent further integration and the conflicts that ensued. The main character, Marlee, and her friend Liz are the kind of characters that really get into your heart. They are such normal girls, wanting friendship & struggling to grow up, but they also have such unusual courage and perception. The author makes you car ...more
Cassi aka Snow White Haggard
Normally I go to the library with a plan. However sometimes, when I'm doing a lot of driving for work, I just dash in and grab a book quickly. Normally I have pretty low expectations for these books. Something has caught my eye, the description or the cover-art, but I have no idea what to expect.

The Lions of Little Rock is a book I just happened to encounter. It's set in 1958 Little Rock. Not tumultuous 1957, known for the Little Rock 9 but 1958. I've always enjoyed history classes but I had no
It’s 1958 and there is a whole lot going on in Marlee’s life in Little Rock, Arkansas. For starters, twelve-year old Marlee doesn’t do much talking, at least out loud. In fact people make fun of her because of this issue. Starting middle school, Marlee knows she’s going to have some issues with the new teachers as they adjust to Marlee’s silence. Her home situation is difficult now, since the high school closed this year. The recent rules on integration that caused its closure, has caused major ...more
Katie Clark
An unflinching look at racism in Little Rock in 1958 all through the eyes of 12 year old Marlee who is becoming increasingly aware that the culture of white and black she's always known isn't right. Not someone who makes friends easily, mostly because she doesn't speak to anyone outside her family, Marlee finally finds a kindred soul in Liz. When Liz doesn't come to school the day of their big class presentation, Marlee is told that Liz wasn't who she had seemed. I enjoyed seeing this background ...more
Barb Middleton
This novel is like an exploding bottle of Mountain Dew that showers everyone with emotion, fear, friendship, and hope. Thirteen-year-old Marlee chooses not to talk out loud. She'll confide with her sister and talk with her family or Sally, her friend from kindergarten, but it is not much. She's no chatterbox, that's for sure, nor is she a selective mute. She talks in her head and deals with stress by reciting the times tables or prime numbers. She usually describes people in her head as types of ...more
3.5 stars. The Lions of little Rock is an interesting case of a Young Adult book doing some things better than an acknowledged classic even though it's still obviously not in the same league. Set in 1958 in Little Rock, Arkansas and narrated from the point of view of Marlee, a 13-year-old girl whom many townspeople think is mute (but is really just intensely shy), the book focuses on the time the local schools closed to prevent the integration of white and African-American students. It isn't as ...more
Margo Tanenbaum
Some books introduce you to a really special character. Kristin Levine has done that with the protagonist of her new novel, The Lions of Little Rock, twelve-year old Marlee. Marlee is a brilliant math student, who dreams of becoming a rocket scientist (although she wonders if it's only boys who can have careers in math). But at school, Marlee is painfully shy, and is so nervous she's scared of saying anything in class. Not surprisingly, it's difficult for her to make friends. It's 1958 in Little ...more
This is a powerful historical fiction novel about the racism, segregation, and school closings that occurred in Little Rock, Arkansas in the late 1950's.

The main character is a 12 year old girl named Marlee. Marlee was extremely smart but shy, to the point where she didn't talk to anyone outside of her family. Then she met Liz, the new girl at her school. Liz was confident, funny, well-spoken and clever. They both desperately needed a friend. Liz was supportive of Marlee, and Marlee finally met
Amelia Wyckoff
Amelia Wyckoff
March 25, 2014

- The Lions of Little Rock, by Kristin Levine

-Marlee Nisbett is a painfully shy 13 year old white girl who never speaks. Liz Fullerton is an outgoing and clever 13 year old African American girl. JT and Red Dalton are two racist brothers with a father in the Ku Klux Klan. Marlee's father is an intellectual teacher who believes in integration.

-The book is set in Little Rock, Arkansas in 1958. Marlee is struggling with her shyness, and finds a true friend in Liz, a new
I wavered for a few minutes on this one, it's really a strong 3.5 - just not quite strong enough to warrant a 4.

When I'm out somewhere new, I find myself shrinking inward. I have to clear my throat before I talk and when it does come out my voice is somehow softer. When visiting new small groups I'm the one who goes and sits in a corner, unable to join in the merriment until someone pulls me in and makes me forget to be shy. When I'm at home, no one could ever call me shy. But when I'm out, some
I liked the book. We don't like to face the reality that narrow-minded racist attitudes are held by perfectly normal people. Klan members were well standing members of society. The South was not populated by monsters, but by normal people who did horrible things. The Lions of Little Rock makes us face that reality. And it goes even further than that by having Marlee's mom be a bit racist. She's not shouting racial epithets or anything like that, but she's not comfortable with her daughters going ...more
Words are not Marlee's thing. She doesn't like to talk to anyone beyond her family and few friends. Words are easy to confuse. They are unclear and imprecise. Numbers, on the other hand, are constant and steady. They are reliable and relaxing. Marlee will need their support if she is going to get through the next series of changes in her life. This will be the first year Marlee will be without her brother. He's off to college. The night before school is to start, Governer Faubus announced in an ...more
Jodi Papazian
A really excellent historical fiction story set in Little Rock during the height of segregation. I'm not normally one who enjoys HF but this book was one I couldn't put down. I rooted for Marlee, her father, Liz, etc throughout the whole story.
While reading this story, I kept going online to research some of the events that were referenced. I applaud Levine for creating such a historically accurate story. I absolutely love that it will encourage readers to learn more about what these girls/ch
I don't care who you are, drop what you're doing and read this book. Right now. I know the cover is terrible, but I promise you won't regret it. I believe you won't be able to put it down. I certainly couldn't.

Kristin Levine's sophomore novel is absolutely divine. Beautifully written, with a rich story that covers several topics that are in no way dated, although the story takes place in 1958. While most people know about Little Rock, Arkansas and what took place in 1957 (the integration of the
This was so compellingly plotted that I read it very quickly! Marlee was a cool, original character. I loved how she used her math skills to solve real-life problems.

I also liked how, although it had a historical setting that was obviously crucial to the plot, it didn't overstate the period details. It was very relatable, almost as though it could be taking place in the present day. I think this may have been intentional because it doesn't allow the reader to distance him or herself from the pre
I loved, loved, loved Kristin Levine's The Lions of Little Rock. Since I had also LOVED The Best Bad Luck I Ever Had, I knew to expect great things from her, and I was not disappointed. I'm not sure which of the two is my favorite, favorite. I loved both books so much. All I can say is that I definitely want to reread them both!

I LOVED both Marlee and Liz. Marlee is a heroine that I found so easy to love. She's so shy, so wonderfully smart but painfully shy. So shy that her family--who loves an
I fear my experience of this book suffered, because I'd just finished The Only and One Ivan.

I liked it. A lot. But I didn't love it.

I thought the history was well handled, the characters pretty real in most ways. I liked the friendship at the center of the book. And I liked that we got to see a full cast of characters, therefore a range of reactions to integration.

But the prose wasn't that special, and the ways in which the book tried to do "more" felt forced to me. The conceit of a kid who does
Mari Anne
I enjoyed this historical YA novel about a young white girl and a young black girl growing up in Little Rock during the time of desegregation. That said though, I don't think this will be very popular among students. It's a little heavy on the politics and ethics side and too light on the plot side. The author did a great job of cramming a lot of history into the book but, I think that is what might handicap it with its intended audience. I have a feeling though that teachers will love it and it ...more
Probably the best story I've read in the last six months. Love how the main character thinks people are like a drink.... "My dad is milk--cool and delicious, but can go sour. Other people are like strong black coffee and make me nervous and tremble." Definitely buying multiple copies and creating a novel study with this one. I was sorry to see it end.
This is a must read for my fifth graders. It deftly covers the topic of segregation and the struggle for integration. It has two clear timelines: the character's internal struggles and the external events. What a wonderfully written book.
This book was great it was so amazing how the two girls broke the barrior of black and white for friendship and I cried atleast 3 times because this book really touched my heart and I wish it didnt end.
Kiara Smothers
This book takes place in 1958. It's hard for Marlee to make friends because she never talks. When school starts Marlee makes a new friend, Liz. Liz is a good friend because she encouraged Marlee to talk. Liz and Marlee were even going to do a presentation. The day of the presentation the teacher tells Marlee that Liz is sick. The next day or so, Marlee finds out Liz was passing, that she was colored. Marlee thinks Liz is a good friend and they try everything to sneak around and see each other. T ...more
Colby Sharp
I would love to read aloud this book to students for so many reasons, but reading the ending would be magical.
Well-researched historical fiction wrapped in a great friendship story. I loved Marlee and Liz.
I had prior knowledge of the Little Rock Nine before I read this book, but that’s where my knowledge ended. I was completely in the dark about the events that took place in Little Rock afterwards. The Little Rock Nine had courageously integrated the high school, but when the following school year began, the elementary and junior high schools remained segregated, and racial tensions led to the closing of the high schools. I’m very happy the author decided to make those events the center of this b ...more
In 1958, 12-year-old Marlee's forbidden friend helps her find her own voice in concert with the adults around her who have been quietly acquiescent to the battle against integration that closed high schools in Little Rock, AK.
A fresh and original take on an important time in US history. The theme of finding one's voice is an important one, made clear for young readers by the sympathetic, nearly mute main character whose shyness is socially crippling. When Liz, new in school, befriends her and tu
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Richie Partington
Richie's Picks: THE LIONS OF LITTLE ROCK by Kristin Levine, Putnam, January 2012, 304p., ISBN: 978-0-399-25644-8

"Oh I'd be in my stride, a king down to the core.
I could roar a way I never roared before
And then I'd...RRWWWWWWOOOOF! And roar some more."
-- The Cowardly Lion, "If I Only Had the Nerve"

"Ever since the Soviets sent up that Sputnik satellite last year, I've been studying really hard. Maybe someday I'll study mathematics at college and become a rocket scientist. Only thing is, when our
I really liked "The Best Bad Luck I Ever Had," so I was looking forward to this one, and I was not disappointed. I've read many books about the events of the integration of Little Rock and I've always been horrified by the hate that permeated the city. I know it was a different time. I get that. But it is still beyond my understanding how people could attack children the way they did. For me, this book was so uplifting. It is the story of Little Rock in 1958, the year AFTER the integration. The ...more
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The Book 2 13 Jan 25, 2014 08:32AM  
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“I think a friend is someone who helps you change for the better. And whether you see them once a day or once a year, if it's a true friend, it doesn't matter.” 45 likes
“Because all the words in the world won't do much good if they're just rattling around in your head.” 17 likes
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