Monday, May 31, 2010

Tween Tuesday: Countdown by Deborah Wiles PLUS Contest

Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

Genre: Historical

Release Date: 5/1/2010

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About the Book: It's 1962 and 11-year-old Franny and the rest of the US are living in fear of bombs being dropped and practicing their duck and cover plans. For Franny, things at home are just as confusing. Her younger brother is a perfect saint, her older sister keeps disappearing with her thinking friends at college, the neighborhood thinks her World World Two hero uncle is crazy, and Franny's best friend just might not be her best friend anymore.

Told in a documentary style, with song lyrics, photos, quotes and news clippings, Franny's story weaves with the bigger story of a country in crisis in an engaging new way.

GreenBeanTeenQueen Says: I really think Countdown might be in the running for the Newbery award this year-that's how impressed I was with this book. Even though the setting is 1962, Franny and her family are relateable to any tween today and I fell in love with her voice. The way Ms. Wiles weaves together the broader crisis of the United States with the crisis Franny is facing at home is perfect. There were times I forgot this was a historical setting because there are many things Franny is dealing with that tweens today still deal with-feeling distanced from older siblings, feeling invisible and not appreciated, friends drifting apart, crushes on classmates-I think tweens will easily relate. The book itself is very readable and engaging

While I liked the documentary style and think it's unique, it's the part I'm not sure tween readers will completely understand. There are pictures and quotes, but the only citations for these are in the back of the book, and I doubt many tween readers will really look these up. Without the context to take the quotes, song lyrics or even recognizing the people in the photos, I'm not sure how well readers without much background of the 60's will be able to follow along. There's also not a lot of context at the beginning about why the school is afraid when a siren goes off signaling a duck and cover practice and without that context I think today's readers might be a little lost and not really understand why they were afraid or what was happening.

I think this book would be a great addition to a classroom and would lead to a wonderful discussion. I would pair it with a discussion of the time period and I think students would come away with a good understanding of the time period. But without that discussion, parts of the novel may be lost on some readers. It could also work well for a bookclub and would be a great inter-generational read, especially if tween readers have grandparents who could talk about being a tween in the 60's. I do think it's a great read and I think readers who enjoy great middle grade fiction (especially middle grade books that work well for older readers too) will find something to love in Countdown.

I have a chance for my readers to win a copy of Countdown!

One lucky winner will win a copy of Countdown and a Countdown branded tote!
-Must have US address for shipping
-Must be 13+
-Contest will end midnight, central time, June 15th

Fill out Google Doc below to enter:


  1. I think I might have been turned off by the format too, but with your high recommendation, I think I'll have to check it out anyway! Here's my Tween Tuesday post.

  2. I had an unsatisfactory time with the distance in POV with 13 Reasons Why, so I don't think this format would appeal to me either. But it sounds like an interesting premise. :)

    I really like your blog, Sarah, and love that you're a teen/tween librarian. How cool! I hope you don't mind my adding your link to my blog--category: Book Centric.

    Jenn/Aria from PLL game

  3. As you said in the reply to mine - we thought the same thing! :)

  4. This book sounds interesting. I'm intrigued by the Cold War era.


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