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Tuesday, June 7, 2011


The year is 1962 and the world is in a panic…many believed it was the end of times. Deborah Wiles’s Countdown is part historical fiction and part documentary of that stressful, yet promising time period for the United States. This novel is the first book in her Sixties trilogy. Eleven-year-old Franny lives with her family which consists of her military father, her homemaker mother, her older sister (Jo Ellen), younger brother (Drew), and her mentally-fragile Uncle Otts. What was the world like at this time? It is the height of the Cold War – the Soviet Union has missiles pointed at the United States – who would react first? Everyone is worried about the future. Schools and homes prepare by practicing shelter-in-place procedures in the event of a nuclear war. John F. Kennedy is President of the United States. Every boy dreams of being an astronaut; the space program is quickly rising. The Civil Rights Movement is just beginning. Things begin to fall apart for Franny personally when she and her best friend, Margie, steal a letter from Jo Ellen’s hope chest. Jo Ellen has been away from home for a few days and Franny is worried that something terrible has happened to her. Margie takes the letter before Franny has a chance to read it. What do the secret codes on Jo Ellen’s letter mean? How can Franny help her Uncle Otts, who suffers from post traumatic stress disorder from his time in the war? Read Countdown to find out how the world was in the early sixties. We have a lot to learn from Franny and that dramatic time in history. Other books by Deborah Wiles include The Aurora County All-Stars and Each Little Bird That Sings.

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