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A powerful story told through the perspective of 13 year old Sam Childs, set towards the end of the Civil Rights Movement in 1968 Growing up with well known civil rights activist Roland Childs as his father, Sam was raised to believe that non violent protests are the only reasonable answer in fighting social injustice At the same time, the Black Panther Party was just gaining popularity, offering a sharp contrast to the peaceful non violent protests favored by Sam s father and Dr Martin Luther King It just so happens that Sam s older brother Stick seems to favor the latter movement, and ends up joining the Black Panther Party This puts Sam in a difficult situation, as two of the most important male figures in his life have completely different beliefs on a topic that effects them not only as a family but as a part of society as a whole One of the main reasons I enjoyed this story so much is that is sets itself apart from the other books I have read that take place during the Civil Rights movement I learned very little about the Black Panther party throughout school, and it was fascinating to read a book especially a young adult novel that incorporated both movements that characterized this era Kekla Magoon did a great job of educating the reader through her story without making it seem like it was one movement against another, or good versus evil she gave an in depth look into each movement and the methods they used, the beliefs that led them and the ideals they were founded on Most importantly, Magoon shows that despite their differences, both movements were fighting for the greater good of society I think this young adult novel would be a great addition to a unit on the Civil Rights movement, as it gives readers all sides of the Civil Rights story as opposed to just one. I was in Chicago the summer of 1968 and I remember what it was like from a wholly different perspective than this book I was twelve and the angry black young men I encountered during that vacation were frightening to me All these years later I am ashamed to say that I finally begin to see a glimmer of what that anger represented 1968 was a critical period in the Civil Rights Movement This book takes us inside the lives of people who struggled with fighting for the rights they deserved from two different schools of thought Martin Luther King s nonviolent social disobedience or The Black Panther s militant approach Though it is a fictional account, it brought this period in American history home to me in a way that I think will also be important for the YA s who read it A Golden Sower Nominee for sure.Favorite Quote The river moves, but it follows a path when it tires of one journey, it rubs through some rock to forge a new way Hard work, but that s its natureI was the river I was the one who would turn the corner and see what tomorrow held in store. The Time The Place Chicago For Thirteen Year Old Sam It S Not Easy Being The Son Of Known Civil Rights Activist Roland Childs Especially When His Older And Best Friend , Stick, Begins To Drift Away From Him For No Apparent Reason And Then It Happens Sam Finds Something That Changes Everything Forever Sam Has Always Had Faith In His Father, But When He Finds Literature About The Black Panthers Under Stick S Bed, He S Not Sure Who To Believe His Father Or His Best Friend Suddenly, Nothing Feels Certain Any Sam Wants To Believe That His Father Is Right You Can Effect Change Without Using Violence But As Time Goes On, Sam Grows Weary Of Standing By And Watching As His Friends And Family Suffer At The Hands Of Racism In Their Own Community Sam Beings To Explore The Panthers With Stick, But Soon He S Involved In Something Far Serious And Dangerous Than He Could Have Ever Predicted Sam Is Faced With A Difficult Decision Will He Follow His Father Or His Brother His Mind Or His Heart The Rock Or The River So far this is my favorite book I ve had to read for my Young Adult Lit class it s infinitely better written and organized, all the characters are well done, and even though the point of the book is to educate kids about the civil rights movement, it never feels preachy or condescending The story takes place in Chicago in the 1960 s, and begins right before Martin Luther King Jr s assassination Fourteen year old Sam s father is an important civil rights leader who advocates nonviolent protesting But Sam s older brother has secretly joined the Black Panthers, and Sam is torn between the two of them Like I said all very well done and enjoyable, and I even learned some stuff about the civil rights movement that I hadn t known before Read for Social Justice in Young Adult Literature What I appreciated most about this book is the slow build to significant, hard hitting, timeless questions about ethics, and how Magoon managed to challenge two different approaches to achieving civil rights without showing bias This book is balanced, not preachy, and a perfect conversation starter for seventh grade justice warriors It reads young, which made me lose interest at times, but it s good to have The Rock and the River in my pocket for my middle school readers I m glad I read it. Maybe 4.5 stars Maybe even be 5 This novel is so poignant and powerful I read it to my oldest years ago and just finished reading it to my younger two tonight My youngest cried at the ending This powerful novel takes place in Chicago in 1968 and is narrated by Sam, a 13 year old kid whose father is a civil rights leader friends with, and similar to, Martin Luther King Jr Sam s older brother is drawn to the Black Panthers and that philosophy over their father s nonviolent approach, which seems rather passive when there is so much racial injustice in Sam s community Sam wrestles with his feelings on which approach he agrees with the rock or the river The novel is well written and actually very timely, despite it being historical fiction Rereading it made me remember what a good writer Kekla Magoon is and reminded me that I need to read of her work. I was a little unsure of a young adult novel talking about a boy s struggle around whether to join the Black Panther Party or stay with his father s nonviolent ideals, but my worries were quickly laid to rest by Magoon s fluid prose and her ability to frame analysis and criticism in a way that seems appropriate for the 13 year old narrator The Rock and the River is not your typical young adult novel taking place during the Civil Rights Movement It doesn t present things as being black and white, or as there being the Evil Violent Black Panthers and the Good Nonviolent Demonstrators Magoon adeptly shows the differences between the two movements, but also shows where they and their goals overlap Her description of the well known civil rights movement goes past demonstrations and passive resistance, while her discussion of the Black Panther Party goes into political education classes, the breakfast program, building clinics, et cetera I was also impressed by Magoon s deft weaving of social class into the story it was often present, yet never seemed overbearing even when discussions of class were a topic of discussion.And perhaps the best part is that Magoon does this all relatively non judgmentally I finished the book feeling that there are pros and cons to both methods, that both groups had successes and failures, and that there is than one right answer. The Rock and the River received reviews from The School Library Journal and Book List as well as the Coretta Scott King John Steptoe Award for New Talent This book takes place during the Civil Rights Movement where the main characters father is friends with Martin Luther King Jr The father is a civil rights leader and speaker, just like Martin Luther King Jr was The two main characters who are the sons are Stick and Sam Stick is the older brother who is secretly part of the Black Panthers, a rebelled group, until his brother Sam finds out Sam found out when he found a handgun wrapped in one of Stick s shirts in his room One of the issues in the book that led to trial at the end of the book had to do with Bucky Bucky was part of the Black Panthers group and was out delivering something when the police stopped him and hit him with their baton sick repeatedly for no reason They then arrested him and gave him two counts of assaulting police and resisting arrest, when he did nothing This becomes a trial later where Sam and Maxie, his friend that he likes, have to testify for him because they witnessed the whole thing Sam was walking Maxie home when it happened, in broad daylight The book then leads to Dr Martin Luther King Jr s death when he was shot This turned into a huge battle in the streets with shots, and fires, and broken glass everywhere from homes and businesses being destroyed Stick is very outspoken and wants to do what s right so he tells his father that he needs to fight back and that he s apart of the Black Panthers His dad is not happy about this, but Stick leaves and goes out to where the riots and fighting is Later on, the dad is leading a demonstration speech and Sam stood in front with him Sam brought the gun because he didn t know what to do with it Blacks were on one side and whites were on the other The police brought Bucky out and someone started fighting Stick Same saves Stick, but you will have to read to find out how Something then happens to his dad giving the speech and the mom blames it on Stick and the Panther boys for getting everyone on edge after Kings death In chapter 17, Bucky s trial begins and Bucky is found not guilty Everyone is happy At the end of the book is where all the action happens Something happens to Stick, Raheem, another black panther, and Sam go after a cop, a new clinic is about to open to help people who can t afford medical aide, and Sam is faced with his biggest decision ever, fight back and go to jail or die, or be the bigger person in the end Read to find out what happens to Sam I would rate this book a 4 out of 5 The beginning of the text starts out slow, but the middle and end are page turners where you will not want to put the book down The author does a great job of getting you to connect with the characters on their level, feel how they re feeling and witness what they re witnessing. I have a variety of different bugaboos that I ll periodically remove from my bag of standard complaints and shout about for long periods of time They re comforting They bring me peace One such complaint concerns The Black Panthers and children s literature Mainly the fact that the two never meet up Ever Once in a while a stray bit of YA literature will come along and mention the Panthers, but it s exceedingly rare The last time it happened America Dreaming How Youth Changed America in the 60 s by Laban Hill the Panthers got a small chapter and then the book moved on swiftly I ve never been able to figure this out The Panthers were built for exciting literature Why ignore their amazing history The Rock and the River by Kekla Magoon answers that question almost immediately For any author to write about the Panthers they need all the tools at their discretion They need to be able to show depth, both sides to every issue, complex ideology, and difficult choices To be blunt, the writer needs to do a lot work than you might find in your average fictional fare A little blood, a little sweat, and a whole bucket of tears appear to have gone into Magoon s novel, and the result is a book that never reaches for the easy answers This is a book that challenges young readers to think Always as we can see here a dangerous proposition.Being the son of a prominent Civil Rights activist in 1968 Chicago isn t as much fun as you might think Half the time brothers Stick and Sam are stuck standing for hours at rallies without really feeling connected to the event Their imposing father always referred to as Father and never Dad runs a tight ship That s why Sam finds it all the stranger when his brother starts hanging out with The Black Panthers Reconciling what the Panthers say to how they are perceived, particularly by his parents, pushes Sam to choose between to different paths Or are they really as different as he initially thought The answer isn t easy to understand.Normally civil rights era novels for young people are easy to write Racists bad Black people and folks friendly to the Civil Rights cause good Once in a while a sympathetic child of the racists will get thrown in there for spice, but generally you know what to expect Good and evil are practically outlined in black markers and thick white paint Black Panthers put an entirely different spin on the whole outlook And I admit that I was pretty skeptical when I first picked this book up I decided right off the bat that I knew how the story would take shape Sam s older brother would join the Panthers He d be initially drawn to how cool they were and then draw back when he saw them do something violent Then the ending would contain some self satisfied reinforcement of Civil Rights movement politics and the Panthers would come off looking like they do in the movie Forrest Gump Which is to say, no better than thugs So when the book veered sharply away from my cynical predictions, you could have bowled me over with a spoon They mention the breakfast program They mention the classes and all the points in their ten point platform And not to spoil it, but if you see the ending of this book coming then I tip my hat to you It came out of the blue for me.Because a part of what Magoon does so well is to bring issues of class into this book Class in kids books usually is used as a foil for a character Example Such n so was poor, and here s the story of how they became rich In terms of historical fiction, your main character can be poor or they can be friends with someone from the wrong side of the tracks What The Rock and the River does is place its story within the context of class The Civil Rights movement did a lot of good, but there was a perception amongst lower income blacks that for all the supposed strides, they themselves weren t seeing a lot of change Police could still go into their neighborhoods, beat them up, and arrest them for no reason at all There s a moment in the book when Sam s girl, Maxie, points out to him that he may have a different view of how black men get arrested because he s an upper middle class kid and she lives in a rough part of town Because in terms of the who the cops arrest, They don t need a reason Maybe they do up where you live, but they sure don t down here It becomes clear that what the Panthers did well was support their lower income communities They gave out free breakfasts They patrolled the neighborhoods to keep an eye on police abuses Magoon doesn t point fingers or ever say that one group or another did immediate good for the poorer people, but you understand why the Panthers existed and why they felt a need to help As Stick says, It s the difference between demonstrating and organizing Between waiting for handouts that aren t coming, or taking care of each other the way we have to It s the rock and the river, you know They serve each other, but they re not the same thing The book is particularly good at showing the reader that particular kind of pain that comes with living with someone in this case, a parent that exudes certainty and righteousness at all times Once you hit a certain age you think that you ll never be able to do enough to please them So Stick s disillusionment with peaceful protests has as much to do with his thoughts about his father as anything else As for Sam, he feels like he isn t certain of anything at all He envies Maxie, Stick, and even his father for believing so completely in their causes while he is left to fend for himself To figure out what s right from what s wrong In the midst of all this I was a little surprised to see Sam pretty much going where he wanted, and doing what he wanted for quite a lot of this book His parents are supposedly keeping him on a tight reign, but at the same time he s getting away with a lot It just seemed oddly permissive of these otherwise stodgy parents Also, the plot jumps about a bit There s a herky jerky quality to it that leaps from place to place and emotion to emotion without there always being a rhyme or reason Judicious ironing could have helped, I think.The magic of the book, however, lies less in the plotting and in the effect on the reader Here Magoon s language is key Right from the start you re reading sentences like Rough concrete pillars stood proud above the courthouse steps, looking weathered and bored, like they were tired of carrying the weight of the law on their shoulders And on the next page, I was tired of marching, of protesting Of leaning my back against a wall and expecting the wall to move I love that right from the start Magoon has honed in on what her character feels and wants and doesn t want She has a talent for synthesizing a person into their simplest form Stick and his father Not a bone of compromise in either of them And later in the book Sam end up supporting his father I could tell he was trying not to lean against me, but he had to, so he did Showing not telling, kids Showing not telling.Name me a book for young people that explains rioting Not the effects of the people hurt by it, but why people do it in the first place Name me a book for kids that contains a sentence equivalent to, as long as you think being a Panther just means carrying a gun, you won t be able to understand what s happening here Name me a book for kids that even mentions the Black Panthers in a complex manner The good and the bad The problems and the solutions As it stands, Kekla Magoon s book is an original There are few enough books out there like it, and I think we have room in this world for A smart, sensible, deeply layered title A necessary addition to our shelves from a time period too often colored in black and white terms.Ages 10 and up. It s the hood in Chicago during one of the most tumultuous years in race relations, 1968 Roland Childs is a disciple and friend of Martin Luther King, while his two boys struggle with the slow progress of non violence Older brother Stick joins the Black Panther Party, while younger brother Sam struggles with which group he wants to join Peaceful protests turn violent, and a close friend of the boys is jailed because of his skin color While Magoon did reasonably well with the family strife and friendships as well as framing the different approaches to protest, the book did not do well capturing the atmosphere of despair on the ghettos, which resulted in the Black Power movement.