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.
The Little Rock 9 are a well-known group of brave African American students who enrolled in Little Rock Central High School in 1957. The following year, the Little Rock High School (with the blessing of the governor of Arkansas) made the decision to close instead of allowing desegregation to take place. The Lions of Little Rock follows an unlikely friendship between two junior high girls in 1958, the year the high school closed. This was a piece of history that I was unfamiliar with, and I loved learning about it through the eyes of Marlee.
Marlee is a 12-year old girl who barely talks to anyone outside of her family. Through her friendship with Liz, an African American girl who attends Marlee’s school by “passing for white,” Marlee’s life changes in major ways. She learns to be brave. She learns to take action for what she believes in. She learns what it means to be a friend.
I really loved this story and the lessons it taught. I loved watching Marlee change and grow. I loved reading about a bit of history I was unfamiliar with. And, I loved sharing this story with my ten-year old daughter. When she finished reading, she promptly labeled it one of her favorite books. She loved how both Marlee and Liz were willing to make sacrifices for each other; how they were willing to be friends even when it was dangerous to do so.
So there you have it, two endorsements for one book! I hope you love it as much as we did.
Readers age 10 and up
(PS Reader age recommendations are just that, recommendations. I list them, oftentimes pulled right off of Amazon, to give you a general guide.)
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