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The Rock and the River (The Rock and the River #1)

4.04 of 5 stars 4.04  ·  rating details  ·  1,896 ratings  ·  302 reviews
The Time: 1968

The Place: Chicago

For thirteen-year-old Sam it's not easy being the son of known civil rights activist Roland Childs. Especially when his older (and best friend), Stick, begins to drift away from him for no apparent reason. And then it happens: Sam finds something that changes everything forever.

Sam has always had faith in his father, but when he finds
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published January 6th 2009 by Aladdin
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2009 MUST READS: Children's and YA
58th out of 258 books — 775 voters
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Newbery 2010
27th out of 107 books — 530 voters

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Community Reviews

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I have a variety of different bugaboos that I'll periodically remove from my bag of standard complaints and shout about for long periods of time. They're comforting. They bring me peace. One such complaint concerns The Black Panthers and children's literature. Mainly the fact that the two never meet up. Ever. Once in a while a stray bit of YA literature will come along and mention the Panthers, but it's exceedingly rare. The last time it happened (America Dreaming: How Youth Changed America in t ...more
So far this is my favorite book I've had to read for my Young Adult Lit class - it's infinitely better written and organized, all the characters are well done, and even though the point of the book is to educate kids about the civil rights movement, it never feels preachy or condescending.

The story takes place in Chicago in the 1960's, and begins right before Martin Luther King Jr.'s assassination. Fourteen-year-old Sam's father is an important civil rights leader who advocates nonviolent prote
I was in Chicago the summer of 1968 and I remember what it was like from a wholly different perspective than this book. I was twelve and the angry black young men I encountered during that vacation were frightening to me. All these years later I am ashamed to say that I finally begin to see a glimmer of what that anger represented. 1968 was a critical period in the Civil Rights Movement. This book takes us inside the lives of people who struggled with fighting for the rights they deserved from t ...more
Mar 17, 2015 Lovekitty rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Those into historical fiction.
The Rock and the River by Kekla Magoon. Happily and undoubtedly, I say that this was the first book I really enjoyed reading in a while.

The story centers around Sam Childs, a young teen living in Chicago at the end of the civil rights era and the beginning of The Black Panther Party movement. He and his older brother, whom he calls Stick, are the sons of civil rights activist Roland Childs, and have been taught and exposed to his ideals of nonviolence and "passive resistance."
Both Sam and Stick
I was a little unsure of a young adult novel talking about a boy's struggle around whether to join the Black Panther Party or stay with his father's nonviolent ideals, but my worries were quickly laid to rest by Magoon's fluid prose and her ability to frame analysis and criticism in a way that seems appropriate for the 13-year-old narrator.

The Rock and the River is not your typical young adult novel taking place during the Civil Rights Movement. It doesn't present things as being black and white
Brilliant. Stellar writing. A compelling read that is both an education and opportunity to appreciate a different perspective. Anyone who says YA fiction is not real literature should read Kekla Magoon.
I wanted so to love this book. Magoon has a good premise and a good theme, "Would you rather be the rock or the river?" The family drama takes place in the 60's when Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated. Should the brothers follow their father in non-violent protest or take the path of Black Panther Party in their Chicago neighborhood? How can a Coretta Scott King Award winner disappoint this reader so badly?

I think The Rock and the River suffers from first novel anorexia. It needs meat, det
Aimed at the secondary school age group, tweenagers and into the teens, this simple but effective title is not a challenge to read, which makes it very accessible to its audience, but provides a complex understanding of the issue of passive versus proactive protest against injustice.
There's nothing new about the issues portrayed: the frustrations for youth of adult passive resistance and inaction in the face of the casual, petty hatred of ignorant whites and paranoia of most others, resulting i
Em (Love YA Lit)
Em's Review: 13 year old Sam Childs, son of a well known civil rights activist, has grown up believing that the non-violent protest methods of his father and Dr. King will lead to change. One day, Sam discovers literature about the Black Panthers under his older brother Stick’s bed. Stick brings a home a gun, and then soon after runs away to join the movement. After witnessing police brutality on the streets and learning of the assassination of Dr. King, Sam starts to question his father’s tacti ...more
Thirteen-year-old Sam Childs is the son of prominent civil rights activist, Roland Childs. Roland is an associate of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and a supporter of non-violent demonstrations. Sam's brother Steven ("Stick"), meanwhile, is a budding Black Panther. A series of events - an altercation at a demonstration, the wrongful arrest of a friend (Bucky), finding a gun which Stick has hidden in their shared room, and getting involved with his girlfriend in Panther-related activities su
This book drove me nuts because it's written as though it's a fictionalized version of actual historical events written about actual historical figures, and only at the end in an end note does the author mention that, hey, she made up everyone in the story. The main character is the son of a man who is supposedly a major figure in the civil rights movement, and the events that happen to his family receive national media attention. It seems inappropriate to me to write a completely fictional acco ...more
This read very quickly whenever I picked up, but I never felt drawn back to the story, and after finishing I think I know why--it read to me much more like a vehicle than an organic story. The characters and incidents each felt like they were placed in a particular way to make a point, and of course this is the case in most books, but it felt obvious to me here; like the author had the message first and worked the book around it.

I thought the book was surprisingly dismissive of women. The mother
I've been reading up on the civil rights era, and historical fiction is a great way to immerse myself in it. This book is set in Chicago, 1968. The friction between the non-violence movement and the black panthers is one of the main forces of the book and that carries into one family in particular.
What a gutpunch of a book, and it started off a bit slowly... Its a 4.5 star attempt... It will make you uneasy to read but unlike many equally well-written books it has something to say yet its more than just a didactic text... A deserved awardwinner... My only qualm is that I hope readers get the real message and not the negative message later discarded by the main character... And while there are other books on the era, i think this had the best voice of the ones I have read... It made me ang ...more
Audience: 4th grade and up, boys, girls, history lovers
Appeal: This book is a great coming of age story. It is set in 1968 and deals with the Civil Rights Movement in the US, so those interested in history will find a lot of interesting facts and insights into this time period within this book. Even though 'The Rock and the River' is a pretty lengthy chapter book, it is packed full of thrills and drama, and is told in the first person by likable Sam, a 13 year old boy, which make this novel a fa
This is a 2010 Coretta Scott King - John Steptoe Award for New Talent book. This book is definitely a 5th grade or older book because the content in it is very mature because it deals with racism, guns, and killing. I believe boys will like this book more then girls because it is in the perspective of a boy and the battle between his brother and his dad. BUT girls will enjoy this book also. This book is awesome at making you put yourself in the shoes of the main character. It's a truthful book w ...more
There are a slew of fantastic civil rights era books. This one deals with the family of a famous civil rights activist and how the times and view points of the late 1960s tear apart a family. Sam is thirteen and once he discovers the Black Panthers he can't decide if his father or his more radical older brother is right. Through various violent injustices the reader is taken through a tumultuous year when a child is learning just how unfair and unjust the world can be for the powerless.
Aaron Moy
The Rock and the River is an intense struggle between what is right and wrong in Chicago, 1968.The story's main character is teenager Sam Childs, son of Roland Childs, a civil rights activist who works alongside Martin Luther King Junior. Sam and his brother Steven were both taught to be honest, strong, and hard-working, but when Sam finds Black Panther literature under his brother's bed, everything changes. Suddenly, he doesn't know which side to choose; non-violent protests with his father, or ...more
He blinked a lot, which meant he was lying. Stick usually told me most everything I wanted to know. When he got secretive like this, it meant something bad. I shivered. Stick could keep his secret. I didn't want it.

I was told to read this book for one of my classes in school. Normally I just read ahead and then done. Because my school doesn't really pick the best books to read... The only book I ever really enjoyed was "The Outsiders" but then we were assigned "The Rock and the River.

I was qui
Mason Stewart
Awarded the Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe Award for New Talent in 2010, Kekla Magoon does an amazing job conveying the heartache, confusion, aggression and anger black people dealt with in 1968. Sam and Stick are teenage brothers who live in Chicago. Their father is respected Reverend Roland Childs who is an organizer and activist with Dr. Martin Luther King. Stick begins to question the non-violent protest philosophy of Dr. King and his father and begins secretly attending meetings with a mil ...more
This is by far my favorite book. I don't even know what to say I loved it so much. The main character Sam is the type of character that drags u in because he is so relatable. I think that if I knew more about civil rights it would be more boring. But I know nothing about that topic. So I had no idea what to expect. If I could only read one book for the rest of my life it would be this one. I can't describe how much I fell in love with this book. I didn't want it to be over. I wanted it to go on ...more
Using stories filled with complex and oh-so-human characters, Magoon explores how the vision of the nonviolent civil rights movement and those the black panther party were essentially same: only their means of getting to the promised land was different. Family divides, police brutality, dreams of freedom, young love, deep unfairness, anger, community, and friendship are woven through each character and make them effortless to empathize with. As a historian, I rarely enjoy historical fiction. The ...more
Ms. Feigen's English 9 Classes Feigen
This book was full of plot twist and decisions. It was a very well written book witch put the cherry on top of a masterpiece. This book was amazing it always had you on your toes wondering what would happen next witch mad you lose yourself in the pages. The books also had a lot of historical references witch I believe only made the book even greater. The only criticism I have for this book is that it rushed details a little i wanted to learn a little more about the characters and there past's. B ...more
Christy Valyou
"The river moves, but it follows a path. When it tires of one journey, it rubs through some rock to forge a new way. Hard work, but that's its nature...I was the river. I was the one who would turn the corner and see what tomorrow held in store." An important book that requires some guidance with background knowledge for tween readers. Powerful messages in this book, represented from multiple viewpoints. I still am in awe that people were treated this way in the not so distant past. Hoping books ...more
Kadeef Salaam
This book is awesome! Everyone should read this book, every single page is full of excitement and thrills.
Kekla Magoon
Jun 23, 2009 Kekla Magoon rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  (Review from the author)
I just joined Goodreads....and yes, I am rating my own book. Why? Because I can! Hehe.
Kellie Doyle
This book presents an interesting conversation about whether or not violence was necessary among the blacks to demonstrate their ideas and be heard during their Civil Rights Movement. It also makes you wonder if the violence was justified. Who’s right? Sam’s dad or the Black Panthers? It’s easy to sympathize with both, and the reader goes through the struggle to make a decision along with Sam. Even more interesting, Sam is not deciding between white and black, but between black and black.

This st
I loved this book! Tempted to give 5 stars but solid 4.5. Magoon does a fabulous job illustrating the desperation, heartache and anger African Americans faced in 1968 through these two brothers Sam and Stick, sons of an organizer and activist who work with Dr. King. The upheaval after King's death and the rise of the Black Panther movement is shown through the two brothers' choices. Heartbreaking and beautiful and oh so relevant today. I found myself gasping in shock towards the end. Also, defin ...more

Are You The Rock Or The River?

For my book review, I choose the book, The Rock and The River by Kekla Magoon. It was published in April of 2010. This book was historical fiction, and the main theme was to always stand up for what you believe in, and stand up for yourself. The Rock and The River is the exciting and yet sad tale of a boy named Sam who gets mixed up in segregation.

In this book, Sam always knew he was treated differently for his skin color, and he hated that. His father, Roland Chil
IndyPL Kids Book Blog
Teenage brothers Sam and Stick live in Chicago in 1968. Their dad, Rev. Roland Childs, is a respected minister and close friend of Dr. Martin Luther King. Sam’s dad believes passionately in non-violent protest and tirelessly organizes and participates in peaceful protest marches.

Older brother Stick has begun to question Dr. King’s nonviolent philosophy and has been secretly attending meetings of the Black Panthers, an organization whose philosophies are more aggressive than Dr. King’s and are di
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Great book 5 16 Feb 04, 2014 04:19AM  
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Share This Book

“The river is motion, turmoil, rage. As the river flows, it wonders what it would be like to be so still, to take a breath, to rest. But the rock will always wonder what lies around the bend in the stream.” 4 likes
“You're only responsible for your own actions. You can't control how someone else reacts to what you do. You made a choice. Stand by it.” 4 likes
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