Friday, December 15, 2017

Armstrong and Charlie by Steven B. Frank –ADVISABLE

Frank, Steven B Armstrong and Charlie 295 pgs. HMH 201.  $20. Language: PG (5 wears) Mature Content: PG (French Kissing) Violence: PG (Mugging with Gun, Bullying)
Armstrong is part of a pilot program in 1970s Los Angeles to integrate schools. He takes the bus to the exclusive Laurel Canyon Neighborhood to attend a mostly white school. Charlie goes to that school already, Wonderland Elementary, and isn’t very pleased with the new system –mostly because all of his friends left to go to a different school because of it. They pair don’t get along right from the start and each has their own worries and problems. When a school field trip necessitates Armstrong sleeping over at Charlie’s house, things turn a corner. The boys gradually become friends and learn what true friendship means and requires.
This is a great book with a slow start. I am worried that the slow start will lose readers interest. I like the historical fiction context, the discussion of race issues, and the realistic friendship building between the two boys. Because of the peeping tom stuff, the French kissing talk and action, and some of the violence I think it would be best for 6th grade and up. That age group would have a better grasp of the context as well. I loved the last half of the book and felt like the boys were two very real people, with very real lives, and most importantly with a very believable friendship.

MS -ADVISABLE.  Stephanie Elementary School Librarian & Author

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