Youth Historical Novel: "The Lions of Little Rock"

While researching The Lions of Little Rock, author Kristin Levine zeroed in on 1958 when Little Rock, Arkansas, was starting to react to forced integration of the public schools. By setting her novel at that time, she gives it a compelling undertone, as readers witness the governor closing the high schools and citizens forming groups such as the Women's Emergency Committee to Open Our Schools (WEC).

This historical novel for youth offers dynamic characters and plot, starring painfully shy twelve-year-old Marlee. Readers will be moved when Marlee bids good-bye to her beloved older sister who is sent away for high school. Left at home, Marlee struggles to make friends, when suddenly an unexpected friendship with a new girl, Liz, boosts her confidence and helps her to understand where she stands in the fight against racism. I found Levine's book informative, warm, and highly entertaining. Reviews have been strongly positive, including this from the New York Times Book Review: ". . . Satisfying, gratifying, touching, weighty — this authentic piece of work has got soul." Levine also wrote The Best Bad Luck I Ever Had, an American Library Association Best Book for Young Adults.


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Both my grandmother and mother lived in Little Rock Arkansas when the integration of Central High occurred and my grandmother actually graduated from that high school 20 years prior to the integration. Both my mom and grandmother said that the city was in upheaval and the citizens carried a lot of hatred at the time. I had a chance to visit the high school several years latter and to see it the first time I visited the school I can tell you I felt all the anger that radiated from that sight all those years ago. I have also had to meet one of the Little Rock as they became known and through listening to her story I became aware of one thing I am happy that I am someone who has learned from the past and I don't discriminate against anyone because we are all the same inside and out and I would never want to see all the violence happen in any city like what they had happen in Little Rock because it is just not worth it.