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Narragansett Pier School Library

Book Summaries Civil Rights Movement

The Lions of Little Rock

"Satisfying, gratifying, touching, weighty--this authentic piece of work has got soul."--The New York Times Book Review As twelve-year-old Marlee starts middle school in 1958 Little Rock, it feels like her whole world is falling apart. Until she meets Liz, the new girl at school. Liz is everything Marlee wishes she could be: she's brave, brash and always knows the right thing to say. But when Liz leaves school without even a good-bye, the rumor is that Liz was caught passing for white. Marlee decides that doesn't matter. She just wants her friend back. And to stay friends, Marlee and Liz are even willing to take on segregation and the dangers their friendship could bring to both their families. Winner of the New-York Historical Society Children's History Book Prize A New York Times Book Review Editor's Choice 

In Detroit, 1945, eleven-year-old Betty’s house doesn’t quite feel like home. She believes her mother loves her, but she can’t shake the feeling that her mother doesn’t want her. Church helps those worries fade, if only for a little while. The singing, the preaching, the speeches from guest activists like Paul Robeson and Thurgood Marshall stir African Americans in her community to stand up for their rights. Betty quickly finds confidence and purpose in volunteering for the Housewives League, an organization that supports black-owned businesses. Soon, the American civil rights icon we now know as Dr. Betty Shabazz is born.

Inspired by Betty's real life--but expanded upon and fictionalized through collaboration with novelist Renée Watson--Ilyasah Shabazz illuminates four poignant years in her mother’s childhood with this book, painting an inspiring portrait of a girl overcoming the challenges of self-acceptance and belonging that will resonate with young readers today.

Summary secret Life of Bees

Set in South Carolina during 1964, The Secret Life of Bees tells the story of a fourteen year old white girl, Lily Owens, whose life has been shaped around the blurred memory of the afternoon her mother was killed. When Lily’s fierce-hearted “stand-in mother,” Rosaleen, insults three racists in town, they escape to Tiburon, South Carolina—a town that holds the secret to her mother’s past. Taken in by an eccentric trio of black beekeeping sisters, Lily finds refuge in their mesmerizing world of bees, honey, and the Black Madonna.

Lily starts a journey as much about her understanding of the world, as about the mystery surrounding her mother. The Secret Life of Bees is a major literary triumph about the search for love and belonging, a novel that possesses a rare wisdom about life and the power and divinity of the female spirit.

Slavery

Chains

If an entire nation could seek its freedom, why not a girl?

As the Revolutionary War begins, thirteen-year-old Isabel wages her own fight...for freedom. Promised freedom upon the death of their owner, she and her sister, Ruth, in a cruel twist of fate become the property of a malicious New York City couple, the Locktons, who have no sympathy for the American Revolution and even less for Ruth and Isabel. When Isabel meets Curzon, a slave with ties to the Patriots, he encourages her to spy on her owners, who know details of British plans for invasion. She is reluctant at first, but when the unthinkable happens to Ruth, Isabel realizes her loyalty is available to the bidder who can provide her with freedom.

From acclaimed author Laurie Halse Anderson comes this compelling, impeccably researched novel that shows the lengths we can go to cast off our chains, both physical and spiritual.

Set in 1859, before the U.S. Civil War, it's the story of an 11-year-old boy who lives in a Canadian settlement of formerly enslaved people. Though residents of Buxton are free, they must remain vigilant about the threat of "slave catchers," and many Buxton residents who escaped slavery are trying to save enough money to pay for the release of loved ones still trapped in the American South. Narrated by Elijah, the book shows Buxton life through a child's eyes. There's some silly kid logic and antics, in addition to a boy's-eye view of the atrocities perpetrated on Black people in the mid-19th century. The violence is not especially graphic or bloody, but Elijah sees people who have suffered gunshot wounds, torture, and branding. He also fights off an attack dog and is treated roughly by some adults. Curtis also offers some hopeful inspiration and great information about the true events behind the novel.

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Holocaust

The Book Thief
 Markus Zusak's unforgettable story is about the ability of books to feed the soul. It is 1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier, and will become busier still. Liesel Meminger is a foster girl living outside of Munich, who scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can't resist-books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement. In superbly crafted writing that burns with intensity, award-winning author Markus Zusak, author of I Am the Messenger, has given us one of the most enduring stories of our time.

 

Nine year-old Bruno knows nothing of the Final Solution or the Holocaust. He is oblivious to the appalling cruelties being inflicted on the people of Europe by his country.
All he knows is that he has been moved from a comfortable home in Berlin to a house in a desolate area where there is nothing to do and no one to play with. Until he meets Shmuel, a boy who lives a strange parallel existence on the other side of the adjoining wire fence and who, like the other people there, wears a uniform of striped pyjamas.
Bruno’s friendship with Shmuel will take him from innocence to revelation. And in exploring what he is unwittingly a part of, he will inevitably become subsumed by the terrible process.

This novel is about a young Jewish boy growing up in the 1930s in a Catholic orphanage in the German mountains. This boy has two secrets: one is that his parents are both alive, and two is that he’s Jewish (which the other children don’t know). His parents told him when they left him that they were going to find more books, as they owned a bookshop, and they promised him that one day they would send him a message when they would collect him. The young boy, Felix, thought that he’d got the message because a whole carrot was in his soup, so he decided to leave the orphanage in search of his parents. But little did he know of the terror in the outside world, the Nazi control, and the constant danger. On his journey he meets several different people, including Zelda, who he saved from a house fire, a German soldier with toothache, and Barney the Dentist.

PROJEKT 1065

Infiltrate. Befriend. Sabotage.

World War II is raging. Michael O’Shaunessey, the son of the Irish ambassador to Nazi Germany, lives in war-torn Berlin with his parents. Like the other boys at his school, Michael is a member of the Hitler Youth. But Michael has a secret:

He and his parents are spies.

Michael and his family help downed Allied airmen to safety and send the Allies coded messages with the locations of Nazi factories, but when one of the boys in Michael’s Hitler Youth group shows him the secret plans to Projekt 1065, a prototype Nazi jet plane that could change the course of the war, Michael knows he has to steal the blueprints. To get close to the boy and the blueprints Michael has to go deeper and deeper into the madness of the Hitler Youth, and to do that, he may just have to sacrifice everything—and everyone—he loves.

In Then - Morris Gleitzman's heartbreaking children's novel set during the Nazi occupation of Poland during the Second World War - Jewish orphan Felix and his best friend Zelda have been captured and are on the way to a concentration camp, unless they manage to escape . . .

A little hope goes a long way.

I had a plan for me and Zelda. Pretend to be someone else. Find new parents, be safe forever.

Then the Nazis came.

My name is Felix. This is my story.
 

Prisoner B-3087

Survive. At any cost.

Yanek Gruener is a Jewish boy in 1930s Poland when the Nazis invade. Everything he has and everyone he loves is brutally taken from him. And then Yanek himself is taken prisoner, his arm tattooed with the number B-3087. Forced from one nightmarish concentration camp to another as World War II rages around him, Yanek encounters evil he could never have imagined–and yet finds surprising glimpses of hope amid the horror.

10 different concentration camps. 10 different encounters with death.

Can Yanek make it through the terror without losing his hope, his will, and, most of all, his identity?

Based on the astonishing true story of one extraordinary boy.

World War Two and After

Lifeboat 12

This poignant novel in verse based on true events tells the story of a boy's harrowing experience on a lifeboat after surviving a torpedo attack during World War II. With Nazis bombing London every night, it's time for thirteen-year-old Ken to escape. He suspects his stepmother is glad to see him go, but his dad says he's one of the lucky ones--one of ninety boys and girls to ship out aboard the SS City of Benares to safety in Canada. Life aboard the luxury ship is grand--nine-course meals, new friends, and a life far from the bombs, rations, and his stepmum's glare. And after five days at sea, the ship's officers announce that they're out of danger. They're wrong. Late that night, an explosion hurls Ken from his bunk. They've been hit. Torpedoed! The Benares is sinking fast. Terrified, Ken scrambles aboard Lifeboat 12 with five other boys. Will they get away? Will they survive? Award-winning author Susan Hood brings this little-known World War II story to life in a riveting novel of courage, hope, and compassion. Based on true events and real people, Lifeboat 12 is about believing in one another, knowing that only by banding together will we have any chance to survive.

With the rise of the Berlin Wall, twelve-year-old Gerta finds her family suddenly divided. She, her mother, and her brother Fritz live on the eastern side, controlled by the Soviets. Her father and middle brother, who had gone west in search of work, cannot return home. Gerta knows it is dangerous to watch the wall, to think forbidden thoughts of freedom, yet she can't help herself. She sees the East German soldiers with their guns trained on their own citizens; she, her family, her neighbors and friends are prisoners in their own city.


But one day, while on her way to school, Gerta spots her father on a viewing platform on the western side, pantomiming a peculiar dance. Then, when she receives a mysterious drawing, Gerta puts two and two together and concludes that her father wants Gerta and Fritz to tunnel beneath the wall, out of East Berlin. However, if they are caught, the consequences will be deadly. No one can be trusted. Will Gerta and her family find their way to freedom?

REFUGEE

Three different kids.

One mission in common: ESCAPE.

Josef is a Jewish boy in 1930s Nazi Germany. With the threat of concentration camps looming, he and his family board a ship bound for the other side of the world…

Isabel is a Cuban girl in 1994. With riots and unrest plaguing her country, she and her family set out on a raft, hoping to find safety and freedom in America…

Mahmoud is a Syrian boy in 2015. With his homeland torn apart by violence and destruction, he and his family begin a long trek toward Europe…

All three young people will go on harrowing journeys in search of refuge. All will face unimaginable dangers–from drownings to bombings to betrayals. But for each of them, there is always the hope of tomorrow. And although Josef, Isabel, and Mahmoud are separated by continents and decades, surprising connections will tie their stories together in the end.

Grenade

 It's 1945, and the world is in the grip of war. Hideki lives on the island of Okinawa, near Japan. When WWII crashes onto his shores, Hideki is drafted into the Blood and Iron Student Corps to fight for the Japanese army. He is handed a grenade and a set of instructions: Don't come back until you've killed an American soldier. Ray, a young American Marine, has just landed on Okinawa. He doesn't know what to expect -- or if he'll make it out alive. He just knows that the enemy is everywhere. Hideki and Ray each fight their way across the island, surviving heart-pounding ambushes and dangerous traps. But when the two of them collide in the middle of the battle, the choices they make in that instant will change everything. From the acclaimed author of Refugee comes this high-octane story of how fear can tear us apart, and how hope can tie us back together.

Non Fiction

Maus is a haunting tale within a tale, weaving the author’s account of his tortured relationship with his aging father into an astonishing retelling of one of history’s most unspeakable tragedies. It is an unforgettable story of survival and a disarming look at the legacy of trauma.