I have been doing my own little author study the last few weeks. Deborah Wiles has taken over my reading time. I have used and loved her picture book Freedom Summer for years but now have picked up her middle grade novels. I began with Countdown (2010) the first of her 60’s trilogy. A walk into the early 60’s and the Cuban Missile crisis.
Book two of the trilogy is Revolution ( 2014) that takes us deep in the heart of Mississippi during the summer of 1964. We are walking first hand into the Civil Rights movement and Freedom Summer. We hear, see and feel what it was like for those living and struggling to understand the changes that were happening that summer.
Both of these books are well worth the read. There is lots of first source materials since she calls these books documentary fiction. I would love to see what students think of these books. The fiction story line in both is of a young girl although both have male characters within the story. The documentary materials get a bit heavy and long in Revolution. I was fascinated to read all of it but wonder if younger reads might skip over some of it if there is not a teacher or an adult to help them wade through it. It was a powerful time in our American history and one we need to revisit, now especially.
I also read each little bird that sings (2005). This earlier book has the favor of the south
but is not wrapped in history like the 60’s trilogy is. It follows the story of Comfort Snowberger and her family. A family well acquainted with death since they run the town’s funeral home. This book explores family, friends and how we handle loss. It would be a wonderful read for a family who has been through a loss recently. (I even found it helpful as I move beyond my Mothers death this fall.) Wiles handles the subject with care and a touch of humor leaving lots of room for readers to discuss feeling and to think about death from many perspectives.
There is so much more to say about these books and this author but a broken wrist will not let me get any further. I will just leave it by saying if you haven’t read her work you should! I am waiting for her next book!