‘Revolution’ by Deborah Wiles Combines Heart and Humor to Talk About a Dark Moment in American History

At 544 pages, before one even opens the book, Revolution stands out as a unique Middle Grade (Grades 3-7) reading experience. 


The books opens with a poem by Langston Hughes, quotes from civil rights leaders and dozens of pages with news clippings, maps and images from the time known in the U.S. as Freedom Summer, 1964. If young readers aren’t engaged by this strong introduction, than they likely will be pulled in by the powerful story which follows.

Sunny is a pre-teen living in Greenwood Mississippi. She knows that something is going on in her town. She hears the adults whispers and can sense the tension. She doesn’t pay much attention to what might be happening until her town’s public pool is closed. She soon meets some of the “intruders” of her town and becomes interested in why they’re there and what they’re doing. The story alternates from Sunny’s perspective to the perspective of a young black boy in town, Raymond Bullis. The characters have very different angles from which to view the same people in town and the national upheaval that the town’s behavior causes. 

Several parallel stories are woven through the novel in a deft manner. Wiles invokes a poetry of sensations. Readers will cheer, question, flinch from and be in awe of the cornucopia of life on display. Although the suggested age is Middle Grade, I would argue that the text could be used throughout High School to engage readers in understanding the struggles of voting rights for African Americans through a very personal telling. This would definitely be a welcome supplement to any study of the 1960’s and may just be one of the best books rooted in American History made for kids this year. 

*Although this is considered the second book in a trilogy this title can be read independently. It should and can be considered a free-standing title.

-The release date for the title is May 27th, 2014- 

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