A Thousand Never Evers by Shana Burg Historical Fiction, 289 pages
This is one of those books that, at the moment you finish reading it, you need to lay down somewhere soft and comfy, a nice warm blanket over you, and then do two things: rest and think. Rest - the story of Addie Ann Pickett in Mississippi in the summer and fall of 1963 will pull your emotions in several different directions. You'll feel her joy and sweetness as she cares for the toddler of a woman from the "white side" of the tracks. You'll feel her fear as two white boys rip her pet cat from her arms and attempt to kill it. You'll feel her anxiety and worry over her older brother who has to disappear for awhile. And you'll feel the frustration and anger that black people in the south felt for decades from the abuse at the hands of whites. Think - What would you have done if you were there during the civil rights movement? How could the injustices have been allowed to happen? As you think about the issues that this book brings up, you'll self-reflect and ask yourself "Do I have the kind of courage that Addie Ann, her family, and her neighbors had?"
A strong contender for this year's Newbery, A Thousand Never Evers is a definate keeper and would be an excellent addition to 6th grade - middle school language arts/social studies curriculum. Just make sure you have "rest-think" time scheduled.