|Fire from the Rock|
Using the events that surrounded the black teens, now known as the Little Rock Nine, who were chosen to integrate Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas, Draper offers an emotional tale about integrity, justice, and determination. A model student and citizen, rising freshman Sylvia Patterson has been chosen to join an elite group of students who will be the first to attend all-white Central High School. Intolerant of racism towards blacks and Jews (her best friend is Jewish), Sylvia knows that it is time to stand up against injustice. But what path should she take? The militant one her brother Gary has chosen? The passive-aggressive one her father has perfected? Or the religious, just leave it to Jesus one, favored by her mother? To make matters more complicated, there is her first love to think about. Can she leave him at the all-black high school while she goes to Central?
An expert at combining several genres to tell a compelling story, Draper reveals Sylvia's innermost thoughts and feelings in diary entries and poetry. Draper skillfully portrays the attitude and climate of late 1950s Arkansas and of the US in general. YA readers might be surprise by the mixed reactions of blacks, some for and some against integration, and the cruelty of the citizens, including the governor, of Arkansas. Figures like Daisy Bates, Elizabeth Eckford, and President Eisenhower will be familiar to history buffs. An informative author's note summarizes the experiences of the Little rock Nine and suggests further reading. Draper fans will not be disappointed by her second historical fiction book, following the award-winning Copper Sun.
- KaaVonia Hinton, PHD
Life is normal for Sylvia in Little Rock, Arkansas. She is the average eighth grade girl; curious about life, interested in boys, and trying to define herself as a teen. Sylvia has friends, family, and even a budding romance. But things are about to change. The mere whisper of the word integration threatens to ignite the powder keg that is Little Rock.
The year is 1757, and there is talk of integrating Little Rock Central High School. Being one of the first black students to walk those halls seems like an honor to Sylvia. She imagines a whole different world of shiny, new lockers and a library stocked with thousands of titles that she has not read. But the rose-colored lenses through which she had been looking begin to come clearer when she discovers the danger that lies ahead of the black students who plan to attend Central. The hostility in the town that quietly simmered reaches a boiling point when violence touches Sylvia's family. Should it be handled with the nonviolent approach that her parents have embraced, or it is time for something more aggressive, as her brother Gary suggests? As the violence escalates, the question becomes whether Sylvia will even live to see the first day of school at Central.
This historical fiction novel is a must-have. It keeps the reader engaged with vivid depictions of a time that most young people can only imagine. This title is an essential purchase for any library that serves young people.-- Robbie L. Flowers
Sylvia is completing her last year of middle school, and she's excited about going to the local high school with all her friends. But this is not a typical coming-of-age tale because the setting is Little Rock, Ark. in 1957, and there are important decisions to be made that will affect not only Sylvia but all African-Americans. Central High School is to be integrated and Sylvia has been selected as a candidate to enroll. If she attends her segregated school, she's guaranteed a good education as well as an abundance of activities and an assured social life. If she goes to Central, she will be prohibited from participating in clubs, sports and all social events, and will definitely be subjected to threats and danger to herself and her family. In the end, she chooses the option that is right for her. Draper evokes the escalating tensions and violence of that seminal summer, giving them a sense of immediacy via a strong central character. Compelling.
- Notable Social Studies Trade Book for Young People for 2008 by the NCSS-CBC Notable Social Studies
- Committee 2008 New York Public Library Best Books for the Teen Age