COUNTDOWN by Deborah Wiles

Another book we’ve enjoyed in the Messner house lately…

I absolutely loved COUNTDOWN by Deborah Wiles. Franny’s coming-of-age story, set against the backdrop of the Cuban Missile Crisis, is the best kind of historical fiction — firmly rooted in the feelings and details of a time period but with young characters that feel as real and modern as any kid next door. Mixed in with the novel’s main plot line are many images, cartoons, quotes, and sidebars that provide a greater context for the story, and these are fascinating.

I read COUNTDOWN as a before-bedtime read-aloud with my nine-year-old daughter, and we both found the documentary elements to be interesting (though if pressed, I’ll have to admit that we skipped a few of them when Franny’s story was getting really good!) I suspect we’ll return to those later on. In addition to being a great snapshot of that time in October 1962, COUNTDOWN is also a touching, funny story about changes and family, fear and friendship. Highly recommended – and I hope the documentary elements won’t cause people to overlook it as a read-aloud. It’s a great one!

Editing to add…   interviewed Deborah Wiles in her Author’s Tent blog series recently.  Here’s the link! (Thanks, Melodye!)

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