Sarah 's Reviews > Countdown

Countdown by Deborah Wiles
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's review
Jul 24, 2010

it was amazing
bookshelves: award-hopefuls, ya-novels, j-historical-fiction
Recommended for: Phoebe

Wow, I really enjoyed this more then I thought I would. It sucked me in and didn't let me out until the last page. I admit that the world of the 1960s was nearly as foreign to me as it might be to the intended audience-- I took a modern US history class 8 years or so ago, but remember only bits. I think that some of the documentary materials will be confusing for kids, but they do add to the feeling of terror that overshadows the book. I think this is a timely tale that will resound with kids growing up with tales of terrorism and fears of attacks on US soil.
I think that this book and One Crazy Summer are part of a growing interest in the 1960s as an area of historical fiction. In both books, I think the authors attempt to capture the way that children living through tremendous times are frequently ignorant of the huge things they live through. The problem with both books is that they require the reader to comprehend the magnitude of the historical events in order to understand how the children's reactions fit into the context. This is a LOT to ask, and Countdown asks more historical understanding, some of which is provided in the historical passages. The passages, however, seem to be at a higher reading level.

Overall, while I liked this book quite a lot, I don't know how much lasting stamina it will have as a classic text, and how well this mashup will work for independent readers. It did make me want to call my mom to ask her about her childhood (where she said she was afraid of planes strifing the playground after her mother's tales of WWII England). Another book with a lot of buzz regarding the newberry, but it seems another longshot.

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Reading Progress

July 24, 2010 – Shelved
July 24, 2010 – Shelved as: award-hopefuls
July 24, 2010 – Shelved as: ya-novels
August 14, 2010 – Started Reading
August 14, 2010 –
page 36
9.14% "This is an interesting concept for a book, but I'm not sure of the audience. So far it is spotty as to what a kid would understand on his or her own without a teacher explaining. What is communism, what's the deal with Vietnam? And because this book has so many artifacts (without citations or explanations) it is sort of like starting a fantasy book in the middle where you don't know the rules or the players."
August 14, 2010 –
page 128
32.49% "I found the citations, I feel better about this book. I like the actual story parts, I relate to the little girl's persecution complex. The book really needs to come with a CD to listen with--I have Kingston Trio and Bob Dylan. Where have all the flowers gone is mentioned in the book."
August 14, 2010 – Finished Reading
September 11, 2011 – Shelved as: j-historical-fiction

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