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

4.05 of 5 stars 4.05  ·  rating details  ·  1,581 ratings  ·  283 reviews
For thirteen-year-old Sam it's not easy being the son of known civil rights activist Roland Childs. Especially when his older brother (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 literature about the Black Pa...more
Audio CD, 0 pages
Published May 6th 2010 by Brilliance Audio (first published January 6th 2009)
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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...more
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...more
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...more
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...more
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
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
Chris Murray
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...more
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
Dec 10, 2009 Wendy rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Wendy by:
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...more
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
Monica Maher
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...more
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
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
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.
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.

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...more
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...more
Set in Chicago in 1968, The Rock and the River tells the story of Sam, a fourteen year old boy stuck between the non-violent protest ideology of his father and the militant Panther Party of his older brother. Sam's family has always followed the teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King; his father is a local, well-known civil rights activist and Dr. King a friend of the family. But after several one-sided bouts of violence and the assassination of Dr. King, Sam's world turns upside down as his brothe...more
Goodness. The easy way to summarize this book would be to (again) say, look at Elizabeth Bird's review. But, here goes. My knowledge growing up of the Black Panthers from school or even literature was zilch. I never even heard of them which is ironic considering the endnotes of this book state that they disbanded in the early '80's. Yet I knew nothing. They were referenced in Forest Gump as something akin to a gang. I picked up bits of history here and there but really didn't see anything positi...more
Annie Oosterwyk
At times this book was painful to listen to, but the emotion added to the experience. The reader, Dion Graham, was fantastic. He was able to alter his voice to capture even the female characters without sounding silly.
I'm not sure I've ever read a more powerful book about growing up and sons , good sons, making life choices that separate them from their parents. This is a look at the civil rights movement from the perspective of people who don't want to wait for equal rights to be given to them...more
This is the final book I had to read for my research this summer. Though it was a little slow to start, and a wee didactic/cliche in its theme/message, overall it was pretty good. The setting is 1968 in Chicago, and Sam is caught between his father, a fictional high ranking civil rights activist (Dr. King is a close personal friend, though he never actually appears in the story), and his brother who has started to become involved with the Black Panther movement. When Dr. King is assassinated and...more
Had to re-read--using this in TCH 454 for Illinos State this semester as an example of middle school local historical fiction.

Whoa...Dion Graham has quite the voice for audiobooks--he's a name I plan on searching for in the next few months!

Roland Childs has grown up in the civil rights movement--his dad is a Chicago leader who is friends with Martin Luther King, Jr. Roland and his older brother Stick were raised as pacifists, but that's all about to change. It's 1968 and thing...more
The Rock and the River by Kelka Magoon is a story of family and friendship, love and hate, hope and despair. Sam and Stick are brothers, and the sons of a prominent civil rights leader in Chicago. It is 1968, and their father, a close friend of Martin Luther King Jr., is consumed with his work.

As issues of violence and poverty escalate in their community, Stick chooses to defy his father's belief in nonviolent protests and join the Black Panther Party. Sam is stuck in the middle. He wants to bel...more
I chose to read this book in order to better understand the African American experience during the time of the Civil Rights movement. This particular book was of interest to me because it was a CSK award winner, it was written by African American author Kekla Magoon (who would be an insider into the culture), and after reading the author's note and all of the research invovled in writing this book, I felt that this book would provide me with a good insight into the struggles of the African Ameri...more
Brian Kelley
Sobering narrative combined with detailed facts made me believe Kekla Magoon's YA novel The Rock and the River. The second YA novel that I've read in the past year using the turbulent late 60s as setting, Both Magoon's effort and the other YA novel, One Crazy Summer by Rita Garcia-Williams, pit siblings on the edge of the Black Panther Party. Of course, in each novel, one sibling grows attracted to people and the teaching while another is left, torn, between the world they know and the secrets p...more
Sam is the son of a prominent civil rights leader. He and his brother Stick help their father at demonstrations, but it is sometimes difficult being in the spotlight. Then Stick secretly joins the Black Panthers. Suddenly, Sam's world is not what he thought it was. He is confused and exposed to things he knew nothing about. He has to make choices and decide what role he wants to take in the movement.

Sam is one of those characters that you see in so many young people. He doesn't think for himself...more
Lindsay (Everyday Is An Adventure)
As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, wow this is an amazing read! I picked it up as it was on the list of the Readers' Choice Books for Middle School 2011. Our student book club uses this list as its reads each year so this one was on it. Being a lover of historical fiction I was definitely interested in this book right from the start.

I think the author deserves accolades for taking on a topic not often covered in young adult literature. The Black Panther Party is little understood by o...more
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Great book 5 15 Feb 04, 2014 04:19AM  
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“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.” 3 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.” 3 likes
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