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 how to deal with what's going on with her family and friends. But somehow she's got to make it through.
A note from the author:
Countdown is a documentary novel. It contains scrapbooks with visual elements - photographs, song lyrics, newspaper articles from 1962, and more. I wanted readers to see young Franny's world, to feel it, to taste it, and I deliberately chose Listening Library to bring the scrapbooks and the story alive for readers by letting them hear what 1962 sounded like. I was totally blown over by this audio homage to the early sixties, as well as how faithful they were to the spirit of the scrapbooks, from the crackle in Khrushchev's long-distance transmissions, to the thrill of John F. Kennedy's rhetoric. From the crack of the bat and the swell of the crowd as Sandy Koufax pitched a no-hitter, to the ominous explosion of a nuclear bomb. Typewriters, air raid sirens, jaunty Duck-and-Cover jingles; it's all there, offering a world that the page alone cannot convey.
And then there is the marvelous Emma Galvin as Franny; a snappy, snazzy, and, above all, earnest young girl in love with the world, on the cusp of growing up, and hoping she lives to see that day. Pitch perfect.
"[T]he documentary format and personalization of the major events of the decade will draw and dazzle readers." (School Library Journal)
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A great story for young, and old!
- David Hamilton
Tween angst, social history and great sound bites