Lions of Little Rock
It’s 1958 in Little Rock, Ark., one year after the Little Rock Nine attempted to integrate the formerly all-white, Little Rock Central High School. In a battle with the federal government, the state government has decided to shut down all public high schools in Little Rock, splitting up families and siblings.
In The Lions of Little Rock by Kristin Levine, Marlee Nisbett is a painfully shy 12-year-old trying to get through the travails of junior high school. Her older sister has been sent away to attend high school in another city. Alone and unable to speak up for herself, Marlee meets Liz, a new girl at school who helps her come out of her shell. Abruptly, Liz disappears from school and rumors begin to rise that Liz was actually a black girl passing for white.
Confused by the revelation, Marlee goes through a mix of emotions but ultimately decides that she needs to get her friend back and find her voice in the fight against segregationist policies, even though her decisions and actions present danger all of those involved.
The Lions of Little Rock is a heart-warming book about friendship and courage, set in well-crafted historical context that seems destined to become a classroom classic.