Countdown (The Sixties Trilogy Series #1)

Countdown (The Sixties Trilogy Series #1)

by Deborah Wiles


$9.99 View All Available Formats & Editions
Choose Expedited Shipping at checkout for guaranteed delivery by Thursday, October 24


Four starred reviews greeted this new, groundbreaking classic from Deborah Wiles!

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 seems that the whole country is living in fear. When President Kennedy goes on television to say that Russia is sending nuclear missiles to Cuba, it only gets worse. Franny doesn't know how to deal with what's going on in the world—no more than she knows with how to deal with what's going on with her family and friends. But somehow she's got to make it.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780545106061
Publisher: Scholastic, Inc.
Publication date: 04/30/2013
Series: Sixties Trilogy Series , #1
Pages: 400
Sales rank: 54,578
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 7.50(h) x 0.90(d)
Age Range: 9 - 12 Years

About the Author

Deborah Wiles is the author of the picture book Freedom Summer and the novels: Love, Ruby Lavender; The Aurora County All-Stars; and Each Little Bird That Sings, a National Book Award finalist, and A Long Line of Cakes. She is also the author of the documentary novels Countdown and Revolution, a National Book Award Finalist, and Anthem. She has vivid memories of ducking and covering under her school desk during air-raid drills at the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis. She also sang in the Glee Club, was a champion speller, and hated Field Day. Deborah lives in Atlanta, Georgia. You can visit her on the web at

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See All Customer Reviews

Countdown 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 32 reviews.
runnergirl83 More than 1 year ago
Franny is 11 and the year is 1962. She has an older sister and a younger brother. As a normal 11 year old, she would like to be like her older sister. However her older sister has recently gone somewhere and her parents aren't telling her what's going on. Other than being a normal 11 year old, what isn't so normal is the constant worrying about how the Russians might bomb us. They are constantly doing drills at school and being told to "duck and cover." What a scary time for a 11 year old, and really a scary time for anyone. Intertwined with the story are real pictures from the 60s and info from that time period. I really liked how the author added these extras in, as it made the book more interesting. Reading the Cuban Missile crisis was also interesting. This is not something I had worried about as it was before my time. However, you can see how scary and terrifying that would have been to everyone at the time. Imagining October 22nd, 1962 and how scared people would have been listing to President Kennedy. As of now there is another book in this series, and I will be adding it to my to-read list.
ALelliott on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The year is 1962. All Franny can think about is how her best friend is not really such a great friend anymore, and the cute boy who just moved in across the street. Until the Cold War escalates and she realizes that her cozy life may not be quite so cozy anymore. Any minute, the Soviet Union could drop a nuclear bomb on her hometown and literally end the world. So she practices duck and cover drills amidst an atmosphere of anxiety and fear.True confession: I am totally caught up in the 60's trend that is going on right now. I watch Mad Men, wear pencil skirts, and just bought a mid-century modern coffee table. So I was very excited to read this book and was well-rewarded. This book has a great mix of history and fiction. Kids will totally relate to Franny's social problems--who hasn't had a friend go off the deep end? At the same time, they'll find out about one of the scariest and tense times in United States history that they may not be very familiar with. The author mixes transcripts of actual newsfootage, presidential speeches, and commercials, as well as songs, photographs, and movie stills with her story to really bring the time period to life. However, there are also funny and touching moments to lightened the oppressive aura of dread. Franny's family seems totally realistic, especially to middle schoolers, who will recognize how a family members can be completely annoying one minute and completely lovable the next.Well-paced and fascinating, students will both root for and relate to Franny. The historical backdrop is on display through various historical artifacts sprinkled throughout the book. Reluctant readers will enjoy the story, while advanced readers can examine the historical perspectives. This is an engaging book that I can highly recommend to anyone. I'm looking forward to the next installment.Reading level: 5th--8th grade
Carolee888 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
'Countdown' by Deborah Wiles is journey back into the 1960s via Franny Chapman's experiences and news pictures and reports of the times. Countdown brought so many vivid memories for me like bomb shelters (we had one in our basement)and the Cuban Missile Crisis. I remember my teacher's hands shaking when we heard the announcement over the PA. We rode home on the school bus with a lot of frightened friends.Franny is only eleven but she had so much to deal with!She is worried about Russia and wants Khrushchev to understand that we are human beings and we don't need to scare each other. She couldn't understand why her best friend dropped her for a snobbish and uncaring girl. Where is her sister? Things arent't matching up with her. She loves her Uncle Otts who lived with them. Why did he seem to be in another world? Why is her younger brother always reading and holding on tight to his favorite book, 'Our Friend, the Atom".Frannie, survives all of the above and learns about herself and her family in a very uneasy age. This book is richly illustrated and has many of the poignant lyrics from songs of the times running though the book. I cared a lot about Frannie, her brother and her older sister. Her parents seemed distant but I think they were so wrapped up in the times that they couldn't see the anguish that their children were going through.This is a very well written book and I recommend it to everyone who has lived through the sixties or wants to know more about them.
SJKessel on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Wiles, D. (2010). Countdown. New York: Scholastic Press.377 pages.Appetizer: The first book in the Sixties Trilogy, Countdown is set in 1962 during the Cuban Missile Crisis and when Americans were certain that at any minute the Russians would bomb the U.S. Franny is an eleven-year-old with her hands full. As the middle child, she often feels ignored by her parents and teachers. Her big sister, Jo Ellen is keeping secrets from her. Her Uncle Otts is having trouble remembering that he's not a soldier anymore and she's not certain that her best friend Margie wants to be her best friend anymore. Plus, her crush, Chris, has just moved back into the neighborhood.Wiles refers to Countdown as a "documentary novel." That seems as fitting a term for it as any. Surrounding the chapters of Franny's story are posters, song lyrics and biographical sketches of major figures from that time period.When I first picked up Countdown to read, I was a little nervous. It is a thick book, my friends. Did I have time for this? The energy? Then I opened it and was greeted by pages and pages of images, newspaper headlines and quotes. I was reminded of Brian Selznick's The Invention of Hugo Cabret, a 540-page long picturebook.Also, as a random note: Here's a picture of a boy that looks a lot like Hugo. How fun is that? Brian Selznik, when will you immortalize me in a masterpiece? Apparently the boy's name is Max and he wasn't cast for the Hugo movie. Oversight!Internetz: Brain! What are you supposed to be doing?ShelBrain: *sheepish* Reviewing Countdown.Internetz: Don't you think you should be doing that then?ShelBrain: Fiiiiine.Countdown is more text heavy the Hugo Cabret of course. As a reader, I did find myself tempted to skip over some of the biographical sketches (I know I would have when I was eleven), but I remained strong.About 100ish pages in, I had a child-like reaction to the book. (AKA juvenile!) My inner 10-year-old boy reared his wee pimple-free head. (I don't mean to imply I actually am part boy. Rather, I often react to books like a young male reader.) My inner ten-year-old rebelled, saying "Deborah Wiles! You're trying to trick me into learning! I don't like to be tricked! There are too many words! What happened to the pictures! I want more pictures! I like being able to skip through ten pages in under a minute! Bring the pictures back or I'll stop reading!!!!!!"I stopped reading the book for over a week. I was frozen. Dead in the water. With sharks circling and me clinging to a piece of drift wood, weeping and praying for rescue.I suspect that most readers don't have the problem I had. Most reviews of Countdown have been so sparly, glowy that you have to wear sunglasses just to read them. I think I wound up with skyscraper-high expectations, when I should have been expecting to be able to enjoy a nice two-story suburban home.(I have no idea where that housing metaphor came from. I think all the talk of the housing crisis has finally invaded my brain synapses. Or other brain anatomy stuff. Oh, science.Despite the fact that the book didn't meet my expectations, I was still surprised by the world Wiles created. I couldn't believe the lack of privacy Franny had throughout the story. There was also this scene where Franny mentions that some of the students actually brought her teacher apples. My response was, Really?! Really?! come nobody give me gifts.Dinner Conversation: "I am eleven years old, and I am invisible.I am sitting at my desk, in my classroom, on a perfect autumn afternoon--Friday, October 19, 1962. My desk is in the farthest row, next to the windows" (p. 16)."It's the air-raid siren, screaming its horrible scream in the playground, high over our heads on a thousand-foot telephone pole--and we are outside. Outside. No desk, no turtle, no cover.We are all about to die" (p. 21)."What's worse: your best friend doesn't feel like your best friend anymore, or the whole nei
ctmsvits on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The documentary novel Countdown by Deborah Wiles is an interesting and riveting tale of a girl who goes by the name of Franny Champman. Franny is a young girl in the fifth grade living during the time of the Cuban Missle Crisis, in 1962. Along with the worries of being bombed, Franny has to face several complications along the way, such as the problem of her crazed Uncle Otts, her troubles with her ex-bestfriend, Margie, or her sister Jo Ellen being away from home from long periods of time, away at college. As things grow worse and worse for Franny, she begins to feel more and more invisible. As time progresses, Franny feels left in the dust and abandoned by her family, who suddenly becomes occupied with greater problems.Towards the end of the novel, Franny uncovers that people do truly care about her. Her family grows more and more supportive towards her and she sees that she truly does matter to people. Her friendship with Margie is restored and she makes several new friends along the way. A romantic intrest sparks up between Franny and the boy next door, Chris. Jo Ellen returns home and Franny and Jo Ellen restore the sisterly bond that was lost long ago, and Uncle Otts is finally at peace with the family.Throughout the novel, one thing that was taken into consideration, was the character development. Deborah Wiles had excellent character development, especially with the main character, Franny Chapman. Franny wasn't portrayed the way a typical eleven year old girl is usually portrayed. Yes, she wore headbangs to school daily and dressed in dresses and cute things like that, but underneath all of that, the author shows us a little girl who is absolutely terrified. She has no idea whether or not she is going to wake up and live through the next day, because, in reality, Franny and the rest of America could have been bombed at any second. Franny is terrified, she is stressed, and is frantic. Deborah Wiles does an excellent job of portraying these emotions, without directly stating it.Although the character development was fantastic, the novel was too much of an easy read. The novel easily could have taken me less than a week to finish, and the same goes to others that have read it. Half of the book was just images, thus why the novel was categorized as a documentary novel, but the images took up a lot of where Deborah Wiles could have put in more detail. Her transitioning from sequence to sequence was also rather quick and lacked detail, making the story confusing at points. If Deborah Wiles had added detail, instead of rushing through the novel, the novel would have been more enjoyable to readers such as myself.The character development was spot-on, however, the lack of detail really killed the novel for me. I really wasn't impressed by the novel, due to it's simplicity. If the author had taken more time and put more detail into it, the novel would have been much more enjoyable. The only major problem with the novel was the lack of detail, which ruined the novel for me.
oapostrophe on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A fairly typical tween coming of age story that is remarkable for it's format. It's historical fiction, set in the 1960's during the Cuban Missile Crisis and Civil Rights and more, which I found totally great as that was my youth. Included within the story are primary source documents. Excerpts from speeches, photos from newspapers and more which really enhanced the experience. My question is will kids read it?
resugo on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
really liked Franny. I love seeing characters grow in books and Franny does. Her family is great and shows different emotions and opinions about what is going on in the world, especially with the Cuban missile crisis. Not only is Franny's story told, but interspersed throughout the book are pictures, song lyrics, speeches, and short biographies about key historical figures of the time. So though 400 pages might seem like a lot, it really wasn't a long book. I keep saying this, but I liked this book more than I thought I would at the beginning.
galleysmith on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Touted as a ¿documentary novel¿ Countdown leverages imagery and quotes from the early 1960s to set the backdrop for the life of middle schooler Franny Chapman. The youngest daughter of a pilot, Franny lives off base and attends public school just outside the confines of Andrews Air Force Base during a very tumultuous time in political history. Surrounded on all sides by the effects of the Cuban Missile Crisis she attempts to navigate already difficult familial and social circumstances now exacerbated by worldwide tensions increased by the newly realized atomic age.The absolute best part of this book was the aforementioned historical perspective. The use of imagery and quotes interspersed between the book¿s chapters is sure to educate young readers about this particular time period in a fun and entertaining way. For me, a strong selling point is the fact that it targets visual learners as well as those who tend to be a bit more traditional. I believe this approach provides to readers a better feeling for what it was really like to live in fear of an atomic bomb ¿ the crouching under desks, the sitting in small tight shelters and all sort of other war related circumstances.Don¿t let all the pretty pictures fool you though, Countdown is an emotional story as well. Showcasing the delicate family dynamics between parents and children, a healthy dose of sibling rivalry, the strain of taking care of a senile older uncle and ultimately how all of this affects the friendships in a child¿s life. I found Franny to be an endearing character to follow through the story. She was inquisitive and cunning yet still had a believable innocence and air of naiveté. At the age where friendships were tested by the impressions other children had of friends and family she felt profoundly the loss of her best friend as she distanced herself in favor of a more popular and less embarrassing crowd.Not remotely preachy, Wiles teaches lessons on tolerance and acceptance. Using the threat of annihilation at the hands of an atomic bomb as a framework she explores fear as a catalyst for relationship building and deconstruction. Thankful that this is done softly and with little hand wringing she makes her points firmly without beating the reader over the head with the need for change and understanding.Great for school aged children and history loving adults alike, Countdown is a strong story with excellent characters well worth picking up and enjoying.
wortklauberlein on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Gotta ask this upfront: Does every author these days have to write a trilogy?"Countdown" is the first in Deborah Wiles's "three companion novels about the 1960s." Spliced in the narrative by 11-year-old Franny are scrapbook-like pages with snippets of '60s songs, nuke-attack guides, President Kennedy's speeches, and a touching account of Fannie Lou Hamer.The Cuban Missile Crisis serves as the looming backdrop for this story of a preteen life not so different from those of kids in this new century. Wiles weaves in the pop culture and politics of the era with only a couple of anachronistic phrases marring the authenticity. (They were more than compensated for by Franny's use of "heavens to Murgatroyd," an expression due for revival.)Poor Franny is saddled with a great uncle still suffering from the trauma of the Great War, a dad who flies the president around and is rarely home, an older sister who is a civil rights activist, a brainy kid brother, and a mom who sends out thin streams of cigarette smoke and uncaring vibes. Oh, and the best frenemy and the cute boy across the street. Plus a dopey, heroic dog.Both the story and the background sections pulled me in, but I wonder if today's kids of Franny's age would get past the fact that this is about ancient history, or the first historic photos section that precedes the start of Franny's story. So, 11-year-olds, what do you say?
DianeVogan on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The story and history mix of the 60's is a nice touch and right on, inclucing small details.
ElizaJane on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Reason for Reading: I enjoy historical fiction but the amount of photographs and media images in the book was what intrigued me the most.If anybody had told me I was going to absolutely love a book that's main historical setting was the Cuban Missile Crisis I would have said "Sorry, I don't even read that kind of political book" then the next thing I'd say would be "BTW, what is the Cuban Missile Crisis?"The book takes place over the last few weeks in October, 1962 and is somewhat autobiographical using the author's personal life and memories to tell the story of growing up in the sixties. Taking the author's place is Franny Chapman, an ordinary girl with a little brother who can do no wrong in her parents' eyes. It's the story of Franny's life; her best friend is starting to avoid her and becoming friends with a girl whose mother is divorced who Franny is not allowed to have anything to do with. Her uncle, great uncle really, lives with them as he raised her father, but he is slipping into dementia, calls everyone soldier and is embarrassing the whole family to the neighbourhood. Franny's father is in the Air Force and always going off on trips seeming never to be there when the worst family crises arise. Franny's older sister, who is in college, is up to something mysterious, something she has disagreed with their mother about, and then one night she just doesn't come back home.The background is the height of the cold war. The children are inundated with the "duck and cover" routine should a nuclear bomb hit. They have practice drills and watch in class movies to make sure that instinctively they know what to do. The Bay of Pigs has ended and there is talk of the Russians attacking with a nuclear bomb. Then President Kennedy comes on the TV and explains the situation in Cuba involving the Russians and nuclear missiles aimed at the United States. The media quickly label this the Cuban Missile Crisis. Also spread throughout the book are the rumblings of the beginning of the Civil Rights movement. As the book ends, I believe the set up has been made that the background of the second book will be Civil Rights.The story is just simply fantastic. I read the book in a day as I just couldn't put it down. The relationships between all the children were very real and the attitudes and lifestyle of the sixties shone through making the story very authentic. A very unique aspect of this book, which has been called a "documentary novel" is that in the middle of the ongoing story it will suddenly turn to a non-fiction essay on a person who has been mentioned. These are very interesting and flow right along with the story feeling perfectly natural in their placement. We learn of both Jack and Jackie Kennedy this way, along with Harry S. Truman, Pete Seeger, Fannie Lou Townsend Hamer and others.What makes this book truly amazing though is the combination of text with photographs and graphic media. Every so often, there is a graphic section which enhances the story telling through photographs, quotes, headlines, cartoons, posters, song lyrics and much more. These follow the storyline and political events are introduced through the graphic media before it becomes a part of the textual story which really enhances and makes clear the understanding of otherwise potentially difficult topics. But the photos also just immerse you in the culture and era with sports events, space accomplishments, popular singers and stark photos of reality.I've never read anything quite like this before and think the combination of text and media has been put together brilliantly and with a compelling, well-written story this is a fantastic book. I am eagerly await the second book!
AlisonsBookMarks on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
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 there as well. What Countdown does differently is it takes us back to the 1960s with a series of actual photos, news clippings, song lyrics, quotes, and ads from the 1960s, dispersed throughout the novel like a scrapbook. The real photographs bring an element to the novel which makes the era all that much more tangible for the reader.While Franny Chapman was worrying about attending her first boy-girl party, she also worried about the frightening world in which she lived - the Cuban Missile Crisis, JFK, fall out shelters, and practicing how to duck and cover under her desk at school. Being twelve was hard. Being twelve in 1962 was exponentially harder.Wiles writes with seemingly effortless ease about a difficult time in our nation's history, while never talking down to her audience, and powerfully tapping into those difficult tween years.There is one scene early in the novel where Franny goes outside on the playground at recess, and isn't sure what to do with herself, who to play with, and is full of that insecure, unsure nervousness we all felt at that age. "...without a book I don't want to be alone at recess - it looks bad and people think there's something wrong with you. Already there's a kickball game going on. Do I want to play kickball? No. I'm a terrible kicker. Do I want to play jacks with Carol and Marcy? No. They don't like me all that much. Do I want to jump rope? I'm a great jump-roper, and there's my best friend, Margie, in the jump rope line, waiting her turn. She's deep in conversation with Gale Hoffman, a girl who lives in the neighborhood behind ours and whose mother lets her wear lipstick already and do whatever she wants." Takes you back, doesn't it? But then, a few lines later..."But before Gale can smile, before anyone can answer the sky cracks wide open with an earsplitting, shrieking wail. It's the air-raid siren, screaming its horrible scream in the playground, high over our heads on a thousand-foot telephone pole -- and we are outside. Outside. No desk, no turtle, no cover. We are all about to die."As an adult reading a children's books, I obviously got more of a jolt from seeing some of the photos from Life magazine than some tweens might, but the novel was not all nuclear missiles and the civil rights movement. Franny learns a few dance moves from her older sister, she eats TV dinners and talks about a brand-new restaurant called McDonald's. When I first picked up Countdown, I wasn't sure what age group for which it was intended, and the publisher recommends ages 9 to 12, but I think that this book would reach older kids as well as some younger. It was wonderful and I highly recommend this book to be read WITH your children to make for a truly memorable experience.
detailmuse on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
It¿s 1962 Washington DC and 11-year-old Franny Chapman is troubled. At home, her Air Force-officer father is often absent and her mother is distracted. Her college-age sister is growing away, her younger brother shines as ¿Mr. Perfect,¿ and her WWI-veteran uncle¿s behavior is growing embarrassingly erratic.Things aren¿t better at school, where Franny feels overlooked, her closest friendship is disintegrating, and she¿s entering the new territory of a romantic crush. And in the larger world? Nuclear annihilation -- when, into the wounds of WWII and Korea and the all-consuming threat of Communism and nuclear war, comes the flash of the Cuban Missile Crisis.I love this book's ¿documentary novel¿ concept, which weaves Franny¿s story with a scrapbook-like, history-rich assortment of news headlines, photos, song lyrics and pop culture of the time. But it's my caution, too -- that the novel's story is solidly aimed at tweens but the documentary aspect seems aimed at adults, especially the baby-boomer generation. To help kids understand it all, this is a great book for (grand)parents / (grand)kids to read together. Plus, an adult reading companion will be helpful if the characters' 1960s cold-war preparations (fallout shelters; "duck and cover") invite comparison to today¿s terrorism threat.Countdown is the first volume in what Wiles has planned as a ¿sixties trilogy¿ (subsequent novels to be set in 1966 and 1968), and indeed she plants the stirrings of Vietnam and civil rights in this volume. I¿m looking forward to them.(Review based on a copy of the book provided by the publisher.)
CatheOlson on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Countdown was an interesting mix of historical fiction novel and 1962 history bytes. The main story was about 11-year-old Franny dealing with a stressed out mother, mostly absent father, crazy uncle, perfect younger brother, and an older sister who is in college and not around for her much anymore. Franny's school life is also full of problems as her best friend becomes increasingly hostile to her and Franny seems to be invisible to her teacher. Plus she's dealing with bomb scares and political unrest.I found the mix of history and coming-of-age story very original and enjoyable but I wonder if elementary school kids will like it as much as I did. My hestitation is that the interruption of the history bytes will take them out of the story and cause their interest to flag. I will pass this to my 11-yo daughter to see what she thinks. For an adult read though, this is great.
mountie9 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Good Stuff: * Wonderfully realistic portrayal of a pre-teens anguish and fear during the cuban missile crisis. Her (Fanny) fear of the unknown and the changes going on with her family and friends is so beautifully written and realistic. The main character has to deal with all those horrible emotional growing pains while at the same time dealing with the fear that the "enemy" could just blow them up at any time * All of the characters are interesting and unusual and the author describes them so well that you feel like you know them. * Weaves fact and fiction so beautifully together. It is as no surprise that the story is based on the authors experiences during this tense moment in history. * Fanny's imaginary letters to Khrushchev * The relationship between the Fanny and her Uncle Otis who is obviously suffering from post traumatic stress disorder * Fanny's teacher Mrs Rodriguez love for and stories of Cuba * The tumultuous relationship between Fanny and her mom * Beautiful scenes between Fanny and her sister, especially the one where she shows her how to danceNot so Good Stuff: * I liked all the mixed media within the book, but I would have preferred it all to either be at the beginning or the end of the story, as I found it distracted from the story when it was mixed in with it. That is just my opinion and lets face it I'm 40 and have 2 small children -- I already have far too many distractions!What I Learned * The Cuban Missile Crisis was very scary and it really makes you understand the development of the American psyche (This is not a dig -- I love Americans -- well -- a lot of them anyway, I don't have much love for George W Bush and Tom Cruise) * Tons of facts about American history, that I really had no knowledge or understanding ofFavorite Quotes/PassagesThere 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 world . . . how you¿re going to live in it, and what you¿re going to do.¿Where have you been ? she asks in her Spanish inquisition voice.How can I be scared of such a beautiful country full of people who are related to my teacher?Who Should Read * Americans who lived through this time - especially if they were young * Perfect for discussions of history by Teachers and Librarians (OR Library Technicians) -- this is a definite must have for any school or public library * Canadians so they can understand a little more about how scary this time period was for our neighbors in the US
abbylibrarian on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Get ready to step back to 1962.This documentary novel combines story and nonfiction in a unique way, presenting the reader with tons of archival photos, ads, songs, newspaper headlines, etc. in order to create the feel of and give background knowledge of the Cuban Missile Crisis and the events leadint up to it. While I felt like the story got a little lost in the shuffle, the book as a whole is truly a feat. I'll be looking forward to the next two installments.
calmclam on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Quick and fun, I think this would be an interesting and educational read for elementary and middle school readers. Wiles combines easily relatable issues (fighting with a best friend, family tension) with less-understandable historical themes.
delphica on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I thought this was interesting, but I couldn't really figure out if it's working or not ... set during the Cuban Missile Crisis, it's a look at more-or-less daily life of Franny, the 12 year old daughter of an Air Force officer. Some of her trials and tribulations are the typical schoolyard kind, while others are more specific to the time period.Aesthetically, I liked the visual pieces inserted between the chapters, collages of archival news footage, Cold War, civil rights, pop culture, song lyrics, government propaganda. It really captured a certain style ... especially taken together with text interludes that used a 1960s social studies textbook tone to deliver biographical snippets of influential 1960s people. The perplexing part for me was ... okay, I don't think there's A WEALTH of good literature out there for kids about this time period, so for many readers, I would guess this is a first look, and given that, does it make sense for this kind of information to be presented so winkingly? If you're 12 years old NOW, and have never had that insanely cheery, civics-type textbook, is this going to mean anything to you? It's not even clear it's supposed be to referencing something, there's nothing to tell you, other than personal experience, not to take it at face value.This is a little bit before my time, but not SO much before that I don't remember the fear of the Soviets and sitting around in school thinking The Bomb was going to come any minute (early on, the incident that really resonated with me was when Franny and her little brother make a plan to find each other and run home together in the event of an actual air raid, regardless of what the drills tell you to do, this felt so true to me). I'd be curious at how convincing this feels for someone who does remember the Kennedy administration more directly.Overall, I enjoyed this but I'm not 100% convinced it's as successful a book as the author wants it to be.
DeltaQueen50 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
If the words Duck and Cover, Nancy Drew, Sing Along With Mitch and the Cuban Missile Crisis all bring memories of a strange and tense time, then you may wish to read Countdown by Deborah Wiles, which cracks open a small window on that era. Perhaps you didn¿t live through that time, but wish to know more, then I would still recommend this enjoyable story. As seen through the eyes of an endearing eleven year old girl, this book covers the last two weeks of October, 1962. The whole country is living with the fear of the BOMB, and the COMMUNISTS. Franny is afraid as well, but she also has other problems on her mind. Her best friend is pulling away from her, her sister is strangely absent, getting involved in university affairs, and her slightly crazy uncle seems to be ready to fly off his rocker. To top it off, an old neighbourhood boy moves back after being gone a year and he gives Franny, along with all the other Grade Five girls, a definite flutter.Interspersed into the story are essays on current affairs, newspaper clippings, pictures and catch phrases of the day. Through these we see the evolvement of the Cuban Missile Crisis and catch a glimpse of the ongoing struggles of the Civil Rights Movement and even the early introduction of military advisors to Viet Nam. I was the exact age of Franny during this time period, and felt an immediate attachment, Her priorities are mixed in with these very adult, very real situations. However, this isn¿t a story of total gloom and doom, the author has a light, humorous touch and makes the whole Chapman family very real and believable. Told in a straightforward slice-of-life style, this engaging story breathes life into a time when the world tottered on the edge of nuclear war.
lilibrarian on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The 1060's were a time of change in the United States. Children in school were taught to "duck and cover" in case of nuclear attack. Franny's dad is in the air force, her sister is in college and not coming home, her uncle is reliving an old war and she is fighting with her best friend.
fromthecomfychair on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book breaks new ground for historical fiction, by inserting ephemera of historical fact into its pages. By doing this, the story is better understood by its intended audience: upper elementary and middle schoolers. By doing this, the history of a particular event, the Cuban Missile Crisis, is fleshed out. I only wish the main character had been a high school student. Why? Modern American History is not studied until high school, but high schoolers are unlikely to read a book about an eleven year old. Still, I hope that authors of young adult historical fiction will sit up and take note. This not-so-popular genre might get a boost from adding visuals to the text.
phh333 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The book was okay. I'm not sure who the audience would be. There are numerous references to events and pop culture of the early 60's that probably only someone who lived during that time would have knowledge of. This is the first of three books on the 1960's. The story centers on the Cuban Missile Crisis and what daily life was like for children living near Washington DC during that dangerous and uncertain time period.
GMac on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
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 seems the whole country is living in fear.
callmecayce on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I wasn't sure what to expect from this book, but it was fantastic. Wile's story is strong and I enjoyed how she wove quotes/news reel clips/etc with the story. The terror that Franny, her friends and family, feel because of the Cuban missile crisis is both realistic and palpable. Emma Galvin gives Franny a voice that sticks with you and keeps you interested. I didn't feel like I was listening to Franny so much as living alongside her. The end of the book involves an incident with Franny and her former best friend and it's a terrifying accident, but it's written so wonderfully that you just can't stop listening. I don't know what the print version looks like, but I absolutely loved the audio book. It was a such a full experience that I can't wait for the next of this sixties series to be available.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago