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It's 1962 and it seems that everyone is living in fear. Eleven-year-old Franny Chapman lives with her family in Washington, DC, and can feel the fear of the nation in the days surrounding the Cuban Missile Crisis. Amid the pervading threat of nuclear war, Franny must face the tension between herself and her younger brother, figure out where she fits into her family, and learn to look beyond outward appearance. For Franny, as for all Americans, it's going to be a life-changing week.From award-winning author Deborah Wiles, this first entry in a new Sixties Trilogy tells the story of one girl with insight, warmth, and hope, set against the backdrop of one of the most politically and culturally defining periods in history.
Deborah Wiles is the author of the picture book Freedom Summer and three novels: Love, Ruby Lavender; The Aurora County All-Stars; and Each Little Bird That Sings, a National Book Award finalist. She has vivid memories of ducking and covering under her school desk during air raid drills at the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis. She also sang in the Glee Club, was a champion speller, and hated Field Day. Deborah lives in Atlanta, Georgia. You can visit her on the web at www.deborahwiles.com.
I am eleven years old, and I am invisible.I am sitting at my desk, in my classroom, on a perfect autumn afternoon - Friday, October 19, 1962. My desk is in the farthest row, next to the windows. I squint into the sunshine and watch a brilliant gold leaf fall from a spindly old tree by the sidewalk, and then I open Makers of America to page forty-seven because it's social studies time. I love social studies, love everything about it, and most of all I love to read aloud.Mrs. Rodriguez, my teacher, has skipped me twice this week - twice! - when we read out loud during social studies, going down each row, desk after desk. I am determined not to let that happen again.Mrs. Rodriguez wears square shoes with thick soles, and glasses on a beaded string around her neck. After conferences last week, I heard Mom describe her to Daddy as thick-waisted. Her fingers are the strong, blunt kind that put me in mind of my grandmother, Miss Mattie, who runs a store in Mississippi and is always hauling around boxes of boots or barrels of pickles. Miss Mattie's fingernails are cut straight across, but Mrs. Rodriguez has short, pointed nails that look like little triangles. \I thought she liked me. When we practiced duck-and-cover under our desks the first week of school, my headband popped off my head and I didn't even try to retrieve it - I just kept my head down and let my hair fall all over my face. Mrs. Rodriguez complimented me right in front of everyone and told me I was a perfect turtle.