Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Little Rock Nine

Little Rock Nine

Marshall Poe
Illustrator:  Ellen Linder 
Historical Fiction Graphic Novel
For ages 8 to 12
Simon and Schuster, 2008   ISBN: 978-1416950660

William McNally is looking forward to being a senior at Central High School in the fall. However he is worried because trouble is brewing. The Supreme Court has decided that their 1954 "separate but equal" ruling for schools has to be upheld no matter what. The powers that be in William's town, Little Rock, are doing their best to fight the Supreme Court ruling and everyone is talking about it. William's father thinks that segregation in schools is wrong and he is working in the courts to bring an end to it. William's grandfather on the other hand, is violently apposed to desegregation because he is racist in his views.

William himself cannot help feeling that Negros should be allowed to go to his school if they want to. He is getting to know Thomas Johnson, the son of his family's Negro maid, and he is beginning to really see how unfair segregation is. Thomas is smart, a good baseball player, and he is the same age as William. He was also one of the students who was a part of the failed effort to integrate Central High the year before. William cannot imagine what it would be like not to be able to go to the school of your choice, and he gets angry when he sees how people treat Thomas.

When William's father wins his court case and gets the desegregation of Central High back on track, both Thomas and William decide that they are going to do their part to help.

In this Turning Points graphic novel the author combines fact and fiction to tell the story of the integration of one school in Little Rock, Arkansas, in 1957. Using the stories of William and Thomas the author shows her readers how families were divided over the issue and how some people crossed the racial divide to work together to bring about desegregation. This format will encourage young readers to ask questions about the civil rights movement, and the book will provide an excellent platform for a class segment about the Little Rock Nine.