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The Rock and the River

(The Rock and the River #1)

4.08  ·  Rating details ·  3,220 ratings  ·  467 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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Average rating 4.08  · 
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 ·  3,220 ratings  ·  467 reviews

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Kekla Magoon
Jun 23, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
I just joined Goodreads....and yes, I am rating my own book. Why? Because I can! Hehe.
Jan 01, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
Sep 10, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: historical
It's the 'hood in Chicago during one of the most tumultuous years in race relations, 1968. Roland Childs is a disciple and friend of Martin Luther King, while his two boys struggle with the slow progress of non-violence. Older brother Stick joins the Black Panther Party, while younger brother Sam struggles with which group he wants to join. Peaceful protests turn violent, and a close friend of the boys is jailed because of his skin color. While Magoon did reasonably well with the family strife a ...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
Rachel León
(Maybe 4.5 stars? Maybe even be 5?)

This novel is so poignant and powerful. I read it to my oldest years ago and just finished reading it to my younger two tonight. (My youngest cried at the ending.) This powerful novel takes place in Chicago in 1968 and is narrated by Sam, a 13 year old kid whose father is a civil rights leader friends with, and similar to, Martin Luther King Jr. Sam's older brother is drawn to the Black Panthers and that philosophy over their father's nonviolent approach, which
May 19, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
May 29, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
What I appreciated most about this book is the slow build to significant, hard-hitting, timeless questions about ethics, and how Magoon managed to challenge two different approaches to achieving civil rights without showing bias. This book is balanced, not preachy, and a perfect conversation-starter for seventh grade "justice warriors." It reads young, which made me lose interest at times, but it's good to have The Rock and the River in my pocket for my middle school readers. I'm glad I read it. ...more
Sep 27, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mc-literature
The Rock and the River received reviews from The School Library Journal and Book List as well as the Coretta Scott King-John Steptoe Award for New Talent. This book takes place during the Civil Rights Movement where the main characters father is friends with Martin Luther King Jr. The father is a civil rights leader and speaker, just like Martin Luther King Jr. was.

The two main characters who are the sons are Stick and Sam. Stick is the older brother who is secretly part of the Black Panthers,
Mar 08, 2016 rated it really liked it
A powerful story told through the perspective of 13-year-old Sam Childs, set towards the end of the Civil Rights Movement in 1968. Growing up with well-known civil rights activist Roland Childs as his father, Sam was raised to believe that non-violent protests are the only reasonable answer in fighting social injustice. At the same time, the Black Panther Party was just gaining popularity, offering a sharp contrast to the peaceful non-violent protests favored by Sam's father and Dr. Martin Luthe ...more
Jun 19, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
Feb 11, 2009 rated it liked it
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
Mar 30, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ya-lit
A really strong book about the Civil Right Movement with strong elements of historical references that make for a vivid picture of the accounts at that time. Sam is the younger son of a Civil Rights Activist whose older brother gets in caught up in a couple questionable and unfortunate situations. Sam's life is turned upside down by the decisions of his bother and those around him that lead to ultimate changes in his life. While fighting for something bigger, sometimes we lose some along the way ...more
Apryl Lewis
May 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Beautifully written and captivating. Sam is a likable protagonist trying to get the girl, be the "good boy," and do the right thing. One could definitely empathize with not only Sam, but with some of the other characters in the story, including Stick and their parents. Only once I got to the end did I truly understand the title of the book. This novel taught me more about the Black Panthers than anything I ever learned about in school. Overall, I would recommend this book for anyone who likes YA ...more
Chanice McClover-Lee
Mar 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is one of the few books that I've come across about the Civil Rights movement which is probably why I liked it so much. It's very rare for me to find a fiction YA book about civil rights and I really enjoyed this book because of that. I really liked how this book incorporated events that happened in real life. I loved pretty much everything about this book and I would definitely recommend it to anyone! ...more
Michelle Simpson
This is an amazing book. I listened to the audio version and felt as though it was really Sam telling his story. It provides the reader with a look into Sam's life as he struggles with decisions about resistance in the Civil Rights movement. He desperately wants to please both his dad and his brother who believe in difference ways to achieve true freedom. I learned a great deal about that time period, but particularly about the Black Panthers. ...more
Mar 30, 2015 rated it liked it
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. ...more
Jul 29, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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.
Aidan Wilson
Apr 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Have you ever imagined what it would be like to be a son of Martin Luther King Jr. or another historic name in civil rights history? The book The Rock and The River can give you that feeling and finally answer your questions. The book was written by Kekla Magoon and is a realistic fiction about a thirteen year old boy named Sam Childs. His dad, Roland, is a major civil rights activist during the civil rights era. Sam lives in Chicago, Illinois and has a mom, Marjorie, and brother, Steven.
Jason Inyavong
Dec 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The book, The Rock and The River, takes place in the 1960s in Chicago and is about how Sam, who is the son of a civil rights activist, deals with many conflicts such as his brother Stick joining the Black Panthers, a group that goes against their father’s beliefs. The story takes place in the 1960s, so there are allusions to Dr. King and how he influences the actions of people such as Sam’s dad, Roland Childs. Roland Childs wants to have peaceful protests, but his older son Steven (Stick) sees ...more
Feb 04, 2021 rated it really liked it
I usually try to stay away African-American stories because they are so intense, raw, heartbreaking and just full. However, we must read them. We have to know their stories. Reading this, I have cried and felt the pain.

The author tells the story of young Sam caught in the middle of two ideologies. How do we fight injustice? Is there a one way approach or a myriad of approaches? These are questions this author raised. The style and language is smooth and every page heavy with emotions.

I won't fo
Aryana Parmar
Dec 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This was actually a pretty good book. I found it sitting around (it was my sister's from a novel study in 7th grade) so I just picked it up and read it since I had nothing else to read. But it was actually very good and I got into it right away. Once again, it is historical fiction and I loved it a lot. Everyone should definitely read it. ...more
Krisette Spangler
Oct 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Chicago in 1968 was in turmoil as African American citizens rose up to defend their basic right to live without fear. The story is told through the eyes of a 13 year old African American boy, Sam, whose father espouses the ideals begun by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Sam's brother, Stick, is introduced to the Black Panther movement and begins to move away from the family to join the Panthers.

The book is simplified as it is for a younger audience, but I really loved the author's portrayal of the Bl
Dec 27, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Magoon, Kekla. The Rock and the River. New York: Aladdin, 2009. Print.

Review: Sam Roland, the narrator of this novel, is the 13 year old son of Roland and Marjorie Childs. His father, an attorney and organizer for Martin Luther King 19s movement involving civil disobedience, has taken an oath of non-violence. Sam and his brother become physically involved in a riot during a non-violent protest and a speech by his father. His brother is hurt and is taken to the hospital where they are treated lik
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
Kellie Piekutowski
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
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
Nov 28, 2015 rated it did not like it
I was very disappointed in The Rock and The River......the author of this book has obviously never even been to Chicago in the winter.....the concept of serving breakfast outside on a playground on folding tables under basketball nets at 6:30 AM is outrageously unbelievable.....Chicago is at its coldest in February, probably around 10 degrees at the most at that time of way would people be standing around serving oatmeal out in the open every morning?????????????????????She make ...more
Ms. Ballister
Jun 28, 2020 rated it liked it
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Estefani Galarza Review #7 1 1 Apr 27, 2020 10:24PM  
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Great book 5 16 Feb 04, 2014 04:19AM  

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