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Ringside, 1925: Views from the Scopes Trial

3.73  ·  Rating details ·  206 Ratings  ·  52 Reviews
The year is 1925, and the students of Dayton, Tennessee, are ready for a summer of fishing, swimming, some working, and drinking root beer floats at Robinson’s Drugstore. But when their science teacher, J. T. Scopes, is arrested for having taught Darwin’s theory of evolution in class, it seems it won’t be just any ordinary summer in Dayton.
As Scopes’ trial proceeds, the sm
Hardcover, 240 pages
Published February 12th 2008 by Knopf Books for Young Readers (first published 2008)
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Jul 17, 2008 rated it it was ok
I am interested in the subject but not an enormous fan of verse novels usually. The information was interesting and well integrated but the poetry felt more like prose with line breaks than poetry. I had to push hard to finish and it was a chore to me. I had just finished a truly fabulous book before this so it may have suffered in comparison.
Cindy Hudson
Jan 12, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Remember learning about the Scopes Monkey trial in history class? The trial pitted the state of Tennessee against a high school science teacher, J.T. Scopes, who challenged the legality of the state's rule against teaching Darwin's theory of evolution. Ringside 1925: Views from the Scopes Trial by Jen Bryant brings the event to life in a way that your history book never could.

The story is told through the voices of several characters, mainly three students from the high school where Mr. Scopes t
Krista the Krazy Kataloguer
This one was slow at the start, but picked up about halfway through. I ended up enjoying it and learning a good deal about the Scopes trial that I hadn't known before. The story wasn't about the trial so much as the effect it had on the people in the small town where the trial took place. The characters were well drawn and reflected the range of opinions about evolution vs. creation prevalent at the time. In the process of thinking about the trial, the 4 young adult characters in the book were a ...more
This book combines all of my favorite elements: verse novel, historical fiction and incredible voices. Each character is distinct. The reader gets a very well-rounded look at the famous Scopes trial.
May 30, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: young-adult
A story told in verse from multiple points of view about the Scopes Trial... I liked the views of the everyday townspeople, whether they were students, shop owners, and those who were extremely religious...
Dec 09, 2013 rated it liked it
The Scopes trial of 1925 addressed a Tennessee law that stated that public schools could not teach the science of evolution. The trial took place in Dayton, Tennessee, with defense attorney Clarence Darrow and state's attorney William Jennings Bryan. The trial drew lot of national publicity to the small town of Dayton, and to the issue of evolution.

Ringside 1925 is a historical fiction book about the Scopes trial. It presents the trial from views of fictitious characters who lived in Dayton a
Jennifer Wardrip
Reviewed by Natalie Tsang for

Jen Bryant's RINGSIDE 1925 explores the Scopes Trial, one of the most controversial trials in American history, through nine diverse characters and is told through vivid verse.

One memorable summer, the sleepy town of Dayton, Tennessee, population 1,800, is turned upside down by the trial of a well-liked high school teacher. His crime is teaching evolution, a subject that the state of Tennessee had forbidden in the newly passed Butler Law.

William Jenn
Jake Hedges
May 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
Poem 1: A Controversial Trial

In a small town in Tennessee
in 1925
one small event
made the sleepy town come alive.

John T. Scopes taught his students
Darwin’s theory of evolution
which went against the teachings
of the religious institutions.
In doing this he broke the law
and then he was arrested
his trial caused the moral values
of the townspeople to be tested.

The town flooded with visitors
from all across the nation.
Businessmen made big profits
for the trial’s entire duration.

Poem 2: A Girl on a Mission

Marjorie Ingall
Sep 03, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: teenagers, history buffs
Recommended to Marjorie by: fuse #8, i think
This YA novel in verse about the Scopes Monkey Trial is told in monologue-poems by the citizens of Dayton, TN, where the trial took place. The first few pages are slow going -- you have to keep track of a bunch of characters and there's a lot of info flying at you at once. but once you get into the novel's groove -- whoo boy. it's gripping, moving, poetic, funny, thought-provoking, rueful. i have powerful memories of a production of Inherit the Wind at Trinity Rep in RI -- we were bused to it as ...more
Jan 26, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2008
Review for The Bookshelf Reviews (

One of the most controversial and compelling issues the world has seen is covered in this fictionalized recapturing of the trial that made the world think twice about religion and science: The State of Tennessee vs. J. T. Scopes, also known as the Scopes Trial.

Written in poetic prose, Jen Bryant tells the views of several townspeople, including open-minded youngsters and stern-believing adults, as the trial unfolds in the courts of
Dec 27, 2008 rated it liked it
Bryant, Jen. 2008. Ringside, 1925: Views from the Scopes Trial.

I'll keep this one short. And I mean it. Something about this one just didn't work for me. Maybe it was the fact that it was in verse. (Verse novels sometimes exist when they should just be prose. And nobody--but the author perhaps--know why they're in verse in the first place.) Maybe it had too many narrators to suit me. (I liked one or two of the narrators, but there were just too many in this case. All the shifting P.O.V's annoyed
Abby Johnson
Apr 23, 2008 rated it it was amazing
In 1925, in the small, sleepy town of Dayton, TN, there was a trial. A local high school teacher was arrested for teaching the theory of evolution to some of his science students. And soon two of the greatest public speakers in the country were coming to battle it out. Did J. T. Scopes break the law by teaching evolution? Was the law constitutional in the first place?

Jen Bryant has written a novel in verse that shows the trial through the eyes of some of the people affected by it. The narrators
Apr 19, 2012 rated it really liked it
In the interest of full disclosure, I must confess that I love to read verse novels. I'm not sure if it's the use of figurative language, or the brevity of the text, or something else entirely, but nonetheless it's true. Ringside, 1925: Views from the Scopes Trial was no exception. This novel is a wonderful way to introduce a short period in our history that still remains a hot source of debate in some places today. It's a glimpse into what southern life was like for adults, teens, whites, black ...more
Aug 20, 2012 rated it really liked it
The Scopes Trial in Dayton, Tennessee was a battle over evolution. Specifically, John Scopes, a teacher at the high school taught a class on evolution that violated the State's Butler Act prohibiting such acts. Scopes was put on trial and it quickly became a circus. Clarence Darrow defended Scopes and William Jennings Bryan was the lawyer for the prosecution. The trial made headlines around the world. Ringside is told from the perspective of several people affected by the trial. Most are citizen ...more
Novel in verse. Historical "fiction" - really, quite a lot of non-fiction, really. Love how the book (poems) are from lots of different characters - I had to do a lot of flipping back and forth, to keep track of who was who and what perspective they were bringing. I really ended up loving this - and learned a lot. Seriously, I did not know that the outcome of the Scopes Trial was actually "negative" - that is to say that the end result was that you still could NOT teach about evolution in school ...more
Sep 24, 2013 rated it liked it
Creationism or Evolution? That is the question of the book, Ringside. It is written to present an interesting and significant historical event, with two distinct sides of an argument, through the viewpoints of multiple characters from different walks of life. Mr. Scopes, the teacher at the center of the debate, is being charged with the crime of teaching evolution in his science class. This story is historical fiction and is based upon an actual trial that took place in 1925 and was dubbed, "The ...more
Sep 05, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This short and highly readable book is about the Scopes "monkey trial" held in Dayton, TN in 1925 in which a high school teacher is accused of breaking a TN law forbidding the teaching of evolution. Scopes was defended by the great lawyer, Clarence Darrow and William Jennings Bryant prosecuted the case. The story is told through the eyes of many of the townspeople in short chapters, from various points of view.

The author includes a bibliography at the end, revealing the level of research she pe
Melissa Mannon
Dec 15, 2013 rated it really liked it
This is a short historical fiction novel that hooked me and made me want to learn more about the subject. (I now am going to seek a biography of Clarence Darrow.) This would be a perfect introduction to high school students learning about politics, religion, and law in the 20th century. Yet, it still holds up for an adult audience. The book seems well-researched. The characters are interesting. The story is tight. My only "criticism" is the chosen poetic style. I am not sure why the book was wri ...more
Int'l librarian
Apr 27, 2010 rated it liked it
One more novel in verse, and once more here’s the most powerful poetic impact I can identify: it sure was a quick read. There are frequent patterns of near-rhyme, but the line breaks make little sense to me. It’s all just a pleasant clump of words, winding down to slightly punchy tag lines. The story outshines the style: the Scopes Trial is a fascinating highlight of American history. There’s an opportunistic circus atmosphere in the town of Dayton, Tennessee, as the trial begins, and Bryant cap ...more
Jul 30, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history, science, fiction, teen
Ringside, 1925 gives readers differing views of the events surrounding the Scopes Trial that occurred in Dayton, TN, in 1925. The text is writtien in poetry verse and is broken into narratives recited by different people who live in Dayton. The people who gives their viepoints include a variety of townsfolk--an African American boy, high school students, a father working as a handyman, a woman devoted to the Bible, lawyers (Darro and Bryan), a newspaper reporter, etc. This historical novel is a ...more
Megan Lady
Jun 12, 2008 rated it really liked it
The author, Jen Bryant, gives readers different views of the Scopes Trial in Dayton, Tennessee according to different characters with varying viewpoints. This is a fictional book, but it is obvious that Bryant has done her research on the topic and community life in the 1920's. I think this would be a good trade book for a middle school social studies or science classroom because it discusses the topic of science eduction (evolution) as well as highlighting racism and gender discrimination that ...more
Jan 09, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I "knew" about the Scopes Monkey Trial but I didn't really Know about the Scopes Monkey Trial. I now know a lot more but not everything. So this isn't one of those historical fiction novels that is going to increase your knowledge ten-fold but it will whet your appetite for more. for example, the book kind of concludes that the trial made some kids in the town pursue college now that their minds were opened up by these visitors. That seems a little far-fetched so I'm going to Google this right n ...more
Mar 21, 2010 rated it liked it
This book would be a good addition alongside The Monkey Trial by Kidd. Bryant tells the story of the Scopes trial from the viewpoints of nine characters. It's told in verse form and I can see a teacher using selections in a Readers Theatre. The book underlines the theme: can a person have faith in God and in science too or are the two diametrically opposed to one another? The author points out that, although Scopes was found guilty of teaching evolution in defiance of the Butler Act, this 1925 t ...more
absolutely fascinating. i originally knew little about this trial and had no idea just how apt the title of this book really is. i've never read about such a strange trial with such absurd circumstances. bryant's novel is told in verse by a variety of narrators ranging from high school students to visitors like a methodist minister and a reporter. the story is crazy enough, but bryant really manages to drive home the issues at the crux of the trial, as well as the aftermath. i'm very excited to ...more
Nov 20, 2009 rated it liked it
A very engaging intro to the Scopes trial, from multiple (fictional) points of view, showing how a rural community in 1925 would have been impacted by such an influx of reporters, lawyers, and "experts" for a week. Written in a verse-type format, reads very quickly, and helps sort out the major players while keeping you interested in the local folks personal lives.

Don't expect that multiple views means you'll see the controversy from many sides. The religious fanatics are portrayed as just that
Julian Nuwamanya
Nov 18, 2013 rated it liked it
In 1925 Dayton from Tennessee, is ready for a summer of fishing, swimming and some working, and drinking root beer. But then their science teacher, J. T. Scopes, is arrested for teaching Darwin’s theory of evolution in class, it's not going to be just any ordinary summer in Dayton.

this was a very interesting book but there were times it gets to boring but i enjoyed reading it.
i think this is a good book and i recommend this book to anyone who likes historical fictions or at least fiction.
Mrs. Hassig
Jan 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Oh I liked this book! I love books that are written in prose. I can finish 200 pages in a day! I had no idea that Clarence Darrow was such an amazing man and that W. J. Bryan died so quickly after the trial? If you don't know a lot about the Scopes Trial this is a great place to start and look at multiple perspectives. The mind-blowing part is that we are still using these same arguments almost 80 years later! I will definitely find more books on this subject and learn more! Thanks Ms. Bryant!
Oct 15, 2010 rated it really liked it
So far,the book is pretty good.I couldnt tell if it was a true story or just fake until my teacher told me.It is written in 1st person and has like 20 different characters!When a science teacher teaches kids about evolution he is arrested. But he is in a very religious town though. So many people wanna make this a big deal since there in a small town. I will let you find out if you are interested.
Oct 27, 2008 rated it really liked it
Great historical novel written in verse. A quick and interesting read. Think Karen Hesse + Sharon Creech + Richard Peck + Sid Fleischman.

Would make for a good book discussion or an introduction into a history lesson or classroom debate. Somewhat incredible all the issues this little book addresses: evolution, Christianity, racism, sexism, feminist movement, class, education, politics, law, censorship, book burning, and surely others.

Sep 24, 2014 rated it liked it
This novel in verse is about the Scopes Trial that took place in Dayton, Tennessee. It's focus is not on the trial itself but the viewpoints of the residents of Dayton. Children and adults express their own views about creationism and evolution as well as how the trial and it's publicity affected their lives.

This is a quick read and I feel that Bryant did a great job describing the various viewpoints of this 1925 hot topic.
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Jen Bryant writes picture books, novels and poems for readers of all ages. Her biographical picture book: A River of Words: The Story of William Carlos Williams, illustrated by Melissa Sweet,received a Caldecott Honor award and her historical novel in verse RINGSIDE 1925: Views from the Scopes Trial is an Oprah Recommended Book for ages 12 & up. Other titles include Pieces of Georgia (IRA Youn ...more
More about Jennifer Fisher Bryant...
“If my years have taught me anything, it's
this: there are many roads to God
and all men and women
have a right to choose their own.
And yet...there are those who want to set
a tollbooth at every junction, demanding
that you pay and pay and pay,
that you walk only on the road they have walked,
the only one they say is open.”
More quotes…