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Countdown (The Sixties Trilogy, #1)
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(The Sixties Trilogy #1)

3.90  ·  Rating details ·  9,495 ratings  ·  1,430 reviews
Franny Chapman just wants some peace. But that's hard to get when her best friend is feuding with her, her sister has disappeared, and her uncle is fighting an old war in his head. Her saintly younger brother is no help, and the cute boy across the street only complicates things. Worst of all, everyone is walking around just waiting for a bomb to fall.

It's 1962, and it se
Hardcover, 394 pages
Published May 1st 2010 by Scholastic Press
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Charlotte Siobhan It refers to the Cuban Missile Crisis and the very real possibility of nuclear war at the time this takes place.

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3.90  · 
Rating details
 ·  9,495 ratings  ·  1,430 reviews

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Mar 15, 2010 rated it really liked it
I held this book up to the noses of the children’s bookgroup I run. “Does anyone know what the Cuban Missile Crisis was?” I asked. My point blank question was met with pointedly blank stares. I tried a little word association on them. “Duck and cover? Bunkers? Castro? Bay of Pigs?” Nope. It’s funny, but when you think of what parts of American history sort of get bypassed in school, the Cuban Missile Crisis is definitely one of them. To be fair, children’s literature has kind of let them down. T ...more
Jul 11, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Actually, I'm listening to it and I'm thinking that's the way to go with this book. It has so many cool sound-bites that make it seem so real!

This just might be my all-time-favorite audio book! It was wonderful! Frannie is a 5th grade girl living in the midst of the Cuban Missile Crisis in a suburb of D.C. While the book certainly is a kid-friendly history lesson on the early 1960s, it also has a story line dealing with friendships and relationships, both within families and with close friends.
Monica Edinger
Feb 14, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Although it evidently has been in the works for years and years, I knew nothing about this book (although I had read the author's other works) until a few weeks ago when I saw one of my goodread friends was reading it. Curious I contacted the publisher for an ARC. They told me it wasn't ready yet and they'd send me a manuscript. Now I don't generally like reading manuscripts and so told them I'd wait for the ARC, but they sent it anyway. And am I glad they did.

How to describe it? On the one hand
Oct 08, 2010 rated it it was ok
This is going to be my annual "I don't get it" book, I guess. I'm puzzled by the almost-universal accolades. (Review will be especially long because of Newbery talk.)

The writing itself is good enough, though marred in my opinion by overuse of similes--some of which didn't make much sense. "By the time Saturday rolls around, we're used to living like emergency room patients." I have no idea what that's supposed to mean. "I answer as if the pope himself called me and told me I could go." ??? Frann
In the fall of 1962, Americans lived in fear of nuclear annihilation during the 13-day Cuban Missile Crisis. Deborah Wiles reveals the fear and uncertainty of this time through the eyes of Frannie, a fifth grader. Frannie's older sister, Jo Ellen, sneaks off to secret meetings of a civil rights youth organization. Her father, an Air Force officer, waits on high alert at the base. Uncle Otts, a World War I veteran, barks orders at the neighbors and tries to build a bomb shelter in the yard. And h ...more
Who as a child of the sixties remembers siren tests every Saturday at noon, and “duck and cover” drills in preparation for possible nuclear attack? I certainly do! Today, I still shudder at the memory. The onslaught of doomsday prepping and headline news, and the Cuban Missile Crisis, Communism and race riots scared the bejezus out of young impressionable children.

“We hope it never comes . . . a bright flash, brighter than the sun, brighter than anything you’ve ever seen. It could knock you down
Oct 31, 2010 rated it really liked it
Countdown is nothing if not a courageous book to market to the middle school set. Complexly structured, impressed with its own scope, and ofttimes old-fashioned, it is more a test of attention-span than it is a merging of history and fiction.

This is not to say I didn't enjoy the book. I did. At times, I truly loved it. The idea of a documentary novel isn't... uhh... novel, but in the hands of Deborah Wiles, it seems like the most revolutionary concept ever. Iconic images are laid under the lyri
Oct 21, 2012 rated it liked it
This particular book just didn't resonate with me. Deborah Wiles does a wonderful job capturing one family and community's reaction to the October 1962 Cuban missile crisis. What's particularly effective is that she captures it in a way that is realistic for a 5th grade living during that time -- she doesn't get bogged down with all the details but rather presents the fear and anxiety through the reactions of adults, air raid drills, and watching President Kennedy's speech on television.

I felt
Nov 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
“The secret to not being afraid is to understand what scares you”

This was a wonderful surprise of a book. I don't typically like Middle grade - it's just a little younger than I typically like to read - but this one was complete wonderful! I enjoyed this as an audio book - but I honestly think you need to do both audio and have the physical book. There are information tidbits at the beginning of every chapter almost that have information about culture and what was going on at the time of the boo
Reading this book was like taking a trip through time. The year in which the events took place was my last year in high school, so the songs, the photos, and the quotes were all familiar to me. Wiles does a great job of constructing the story of Franny, a fifth-grader, caught up in the country's craziness during the Cuban missile crisis. Interspersed among the chapters of Franny's story are visual reminders of the time.

I'm not sure whether to expect young adults would like this or not. If they
Jenna Buss
Jan 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars. It took me awhile to get into this book, particularly because of the fact that the book switches from the story to pages that contained quotes from the time period, flyers, newspaper pages... Even though at first this was confusing and something I was not accustomed to, now it is one of the main reasons that I enjoyed the book. It was an excellent way of depicting what time period it was, as well as it helped to foreshadow what was or wasn't going to happen later on in the story. I lo ...more
May 16, 2010 rated it really liked it
To win a copy of this book go to Alison's Book Marks Contest Ends 6/16/2010

A gripping Middle Grade novel which might also be educational - shh!

The first of Deborah Wiles's Sixties Trilogy, Countdown takes a fresh look at a coming-of-age story in the 1960s. Franny Chapman is a typical 12 year old girl, who reads Nancy Drew, has fights with her best friend, worries about how her hair looks, and has a crush on the boy down the street. We've all been there, and hundreds of books have been th
Brody Ferko
Mar 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book was an amazing book. I liked that it started with an ordinary family that was having a few problems.I thought that the character development was very good, I felt like I really knew the characters.The Cuban missile crisis was something I wished was more in the book and all about her life but I still liked the book.
Jan 25, 2018 rated it liked it
This book overall was a quick read, but it covered a lot of topics, which I didn't personally know about, and is very interesting in my opinion. Something I found interesting about the book, was on how short of a time span it actually took place in. It felt as if the story went by very quickly, as it was very interesting.
Jul 08, 2010 rated it it was amazing
When my 9 year-old daughter said, “Mom, I don’t think I’ll ever find a book as good as Countdown,” I pointed out to her that we’d read many books she loved and there would be others. She replied, “Yeah, but Countdown made me think.” To me this summarizes how powerful this book was in hooking my daughter and me as we were transported to a different era. Interspersed throughout the novel is footage of the events that took place during the Cuba crisis in 1962 as it parallels the momentous events th ...more
Mar 19, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2011, fiction, history, kid, own, teen
When I was in school, my Social Studies classes usually ended right around the end of the Civil War, with some information about World War I and II if we had time at the end of the year, and the 1950s onward covered only briefly. I didn't grow up knowing very much about the Cuban Missile Crisis or even very much about the Vietnam War. With that in mind I think this book is pretty valuable for kids to read - it covers a period of time they may not be very familiar with and it does so in an engagi ...more
Aug 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: audiobook
Not really sure if this would be considered a YA book or not, but as old as I am, I really enjoyed it. Could have been because like the main character, I lived thru the Cuban Missile Crisis, on an Air Force Base (actually only a couple hundred miles from where this book takes place) and the book gives such a true account of what those 2 weeks were like for us. This book brought back quite a bit of what it was like to live in the early sixties, with the language we really used - Heavens to Murgat ...more
Agata Wilusz
I LOVED this book! I find it is so hard to find a good young adult, historical fiction book that isn't focused on WWII and the Holocaust. Countdown, however, did a wonderful job of introducing its readers to the frightening times our country went through during the 1960s. Wiles did an amazing job including historical facts, including SO MANY primary sources, throughout the novel. One of my favorite parts was when Franny was explaining her favorite things about dinner when her dad is on a trip an ...more
Aug 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing
The storyline for Countdown follows Franny Chapman's life living in America during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Along with the story, Deborah Wiles includes footage from the 1960s. The storyline kept me on the edge of my seat and, despite living in a different time period I really connected with the main character. I learned a lot about the Cuban Missile Crisis and that time in American history that I wouldn't learn in a classroom setting.
I've read plenty of historical fiction but this one was for
Jul 12, 2010 rated it liked it
I liked it fine, but don't put me on the list of people who are crazy about it. It may have been better if they toned down the photos, quotes, and documentary pieces that interspersed Franny's story. They were earnest and provocative, but they evoked a college art installation more than they did October, 1962. Also, while I knew all of the songs being referenced, and could sing them in my head, and I know who the Breck girl was, I'm not sure a lot of 21st century kids would. Not that kids have t ...more
Naima F
Jan 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Franki Sibberson
Mar 06, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Unbelievable book! Maybe be one of my favorite books of all time. I have always love Deborah Wiles but I think this puts her up there with Sharon Creech, Anna Quindlen, Barbara Kingsolver. Really an amazing book. Brilliantly done and some of my favorite characters ever.
A.J Betz
Oct 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
4/5 ⭐ and read for book club.

This book was very entertaining and taught me a lot of things I didn’t know. Deborah wiles does a wonderful job making you feel immersed in the story and invested in the characters.

I LOVED FRANNY! She was so fun, spunky and silly that you couldn’t help but love her. I enjoyed Jo-Ellen as well. Although I feel her story didn’t have good closure. And I can’t forget to talk about Uncle Otts. He was fantastic and such a good look into the mind of someone with
Julie Suzanne
Jan 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
A darling story that sucks you right in from the first scene. This is the first historical fiction I've read about this time period (Cuban Missile Crisis). The unique format, part scrapbook from 1962 and part narrative, lends itself to great conversations between tweens RIGHT NOW and their grandparents. I showed the 70-year-old in my life the pictures, song lyrics, and cultural references I didn't understand, and he smiled and explained things to me. Kids, please do this! Look up the songs that ...more
Jun 12, 2010 rated it really liked it
When I was approached by the publisher to review Countdown by Deborah Wiles, I was a bit hesitant because it seemed outside my normal reading habits. However, as soon as I started reading, all I could think was, what was I thinking?? I adore history (was a history and english major in college), I LOVE primary documents, I love digging into an era, and well, I love revisiting a past era. All that plus more is present in this engrossing story.

Synopsis: It's 1962, and it seems everyone is living in
I tried to like this. I really did.
The 1960's/Cold War Era story was mediocre and predictible. The characters, especially our protagonist, 11 year old Franny Chapman, were bland as heck.
To quote Louise Belcher: "If she were a spice, she'd be flour." But ultimately, the pacing was this book's downfall.
The only saving grace this book had were the pictures. Those were cool.
Victor The Reader
Jan 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Frannie’s story of adolescence, set during The Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, is an enticing story and a nice historical trip back to the 1960s, with references and photos to the issues during that decade which include politics, war propaganda, race and music (Grade: A-).
Dec 11, 2017 rated it liked it
it was an interesting concept but a weird execution
Sep 27, 2015 marked it as dnf
Shelves: 2015
i think this would have been a good book for middle school me, but i didn't connect to the younger characters and didn't have the motivation to continue it
Joe Slager
this was a great book that really gave you an insight on what it was like in the time period. I particularly liked the beginning when she wasn't sure what was happening and it was just satisfying to see her persevere through all the obstacles she faced.
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What Do You Think? 4 28 Feb 18, 2014 03:08PM  
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Deborah Wiles was born in Alabama and spent her summers in a small Mississippi town with an extended family full of characters. She writes about them and they live on in her stories.

She holds an MFA in Writing from Vermont College and taught at Towson University in Maryland, Lesley University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and at Vermont College.

Deborah has written three novels about growing up in

Other books in the series

The Sixties Trilogy (2 books)
  • Revolution (The Sixties Trilogy, #2)
“The secret to not being afraid is to understand what scares you” 30 likes
“There are always scary things happening in the world. There are always wonderful things happening. And it's up to you to decide how you're going to approach the you're going to live in it, and what you're going to do."

—Jo Ellen Chapman”
More quotes…