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The Lions of Little Rock

4.2  ·  Rating Details ·  12,338 Ratings  ·  1,464 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 - sp
Hardcover, 298 pages
Published January 5th 2012 by G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers (first published January 1st 2012)
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Danielle Jose It's an inspirational book that talks about the most controversial topics that were present during 1958. Mainly following a little girl called Marlee,…moreIt's an inspirational book that talks about the most controversial topics that were present during 1958. Mainly following a little girl called Marlee, the reader gets to see segregation at it's strongest while seeing two young girls overcome this obstacle and soon become best friends. I found it an amazing read and is based on real life accounts. The author went through various accounts to get her information for writing this piece so I would gladly encourage you to read it!(less)
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 113 books — 1,221 voters
Wonder by R.J. PalacioThe One and Only Ivan by Katherine ApplegateThe False Prince by Jennifer A. NielsenKeeper of the Lost Cities by Shannon MessengerThe Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom by Christopher Healy
Middle Grade Novels of 2012
15th out of 297 books — 673 voters

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Community Reviews

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Required Summer Reading = Unhappy Tween Boy


My poor boy. Apparently, the school is ruining his summer! Did you know they are intentionally STEALING his vacation time away from him?? Oh, the drama...

Post-meltdown, I went in my closet and had a little laugh, composed myself, and then sat down and made a plan. I've always made an effort to read along with my boy and summertime is no exception. So we went on a book hunt (with a frappuccino stop of course) and printed out all the assignments the schoo
Aug 03, 2012 Cathy rated it it was amazing
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
Kady Mac
Apr 23, 2012 Kady Mac rated it it was amazing
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
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
Barb Middleton
Sep 20, 2012 Barb Middleton rated it really liked it
Shelves: historical
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
Mar 27, 2014 Sandy rated it it was amazing
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
Feb 15, 2013 Katie Clark rated it it was amazing
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
Apr 24, 2014 Rob rated it liked it
Shelves: young-adult-lit
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
Jan 21, 2012 Margo Tanenbaum rated it it was amazing
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
Mary Ann
Historical fiction at its best. This account gives us new information about the aftermath of the well-known Little Rock Nine, as seen through the eyes of good people of Little Rock, Arkansas. After the turmoil of the year when the Little Rock Nine integrated the high school, the school board and mayor of Little Rock closed the schools. This power play was supposed to show that citizens would not allow their schools to be integrated and controlled by the federal government. But several brave citi ...more
May 18, 2015 Debbie rated it really liked it
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
Apr 11, 2014 Jan rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
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
Amelia Wyckoff
Mar 25, 2014 Amelia Wyckoff rated it really liked it
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
Jan 31, 2014 Jaina rated it liked it
Shelves: blogged
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
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May 05, 2012 Brenda rated it really liked it
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
Mar 26, 2013 Jodi Papazian rated it liked it
Shelves: ya-reads
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
Jul 13, 2012 Eleanor rated it it was amazing
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
Jun 28, 2012 Sara rated it liked it
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
Sep 21, 2012 Becky rated it it was amazing
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
Jul 24, 2012 Laurel rated it liked it
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
Review at:

Lions of Little Rock by Kristin Levine is a book that I have been meaning to read since it came out, and I am so glad that I finally did. It is a different look at integration in the south during the late 50s. I got so invested in the story and was lucky enough to be reading the book at the same time as a student. It was so much fun to discuss it with her.

Loved this book that ended up being about way more than what I thought it was. Yes, it was
Apr 08, 2016 Havana rated it it was amazing
This book was very inspirational to me. It's and amazing book and I've read it more than 1 time and I recommend it to anyone that loves really good and inspirational books.
Mari Anne
Oct 03, 2012 Mari Anne rated it liked it
Shelves: mg-ya
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
Jamie Oberheu
Apr 28, 2015 Jamie Oberheu rated it it was amazing
This book had 320 pages of amazing literature. The main character in this story is Marlee. Marlee is a quiet and shy person. She counts prime numbers to help give her courage. She also has a friend, Liz, who she ends up being banned from seeing. I gave this book 5 stars, because the book takes a historical view on the civil rights era and teaches us the true meaning of friendship. If you have ever read Rain Reign, you will easily see the comparisons between Marlee and Rose as characters in the b ...more
Nov 29, 2015 Cara rated it really liked it
I read this book as the fiction book for the informational/fiction text set book club. I read this book as an e-book.

Based on the title of this book, I thought it would follow the story of the Little Rock Nine. However, it was based in 1958 during the school closings following the federal ruling for school integration. The book follows the friendship of 12 year old Marlee and Liz. Liz is new and Marlee's school and helps Marlee build up her confidence to speak up and stand up to her "friend" Sal
Jan 04, 2013 Sally rated it it was amazing
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.
Oct 04, 2016 Sierra rated it really liked it
Sierra Muns
‘The Lions of Little Rock’ written by Christopher Paul Curtis
Rating- 4 Stars

Written by Christopher Paul Curtis, The Lions of Little Rock, is about girls who face racism and segregation. Marlene, who is white, and Liz, who is black, form an unbreakable friendship. Their friendship withstands stereotypes and racism. Not only does their friendship wreak havoc on them, but also their families. Joined together by there like personalities, the two girls go through anything and everything
Isabella Schmitz
Jan 12, 2016 Isabella Schmitz rated it really liked it
The Lions of Little Rock written by Kristin Levine is an amazing historical fiction book. The Lions of Little Rock is about a 12 year old girl named Marlee. She lives in Little Rock Arkansas in 1958. Her whole life she has been quiet, because she has never had a true friend to listen. Then everything changes. One day a girl named Liz comes to Marlee's school. Quickly they become amazing friends. Liz is there for Marlee and supports her and encourages her. One day, Liz isn't at school anymore. Th ...more
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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.” 62 likes
“Because all the words in the world won't do much good if they're just rattling around in your head.” 26 likes
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