I’m sure by now you’ve realized my favorite kinds of stories are just like me: light-hearted, adventuresome, and a little bit quirky. But that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy a more serious book now and then. Like today’s Operation Story Share, The Lions of Little Rock by Kristin Levine.
Here’s what the inside cover says:
Everything’s changing for twelve-year-old Marlee. Her brother’s gone off to college and her sister’s moved out of the room they’ve shared since Marlee was born. To Marlee, who’s not much of a talker outside her family and who doesn’t have many friends, it feels like her whole world’s falling apart.
On top of all that, she’s starting middle school and has to break in new teachers—teachers who don’t yet know Marlee doesn’t talk. It’s not that she can’t talk. She just doesn’t. At least not until she meets Liz, the new girl at school. Liz is everything Marlee wishes she could be: she’s brave, brash and always knows the right thing to say, especially to the resident mean girl, Sally. Liz even helps Marlee overcome her fear of speaking. But when Liz leaves school without even a good-bye, the rumor is that Liz was really a colored girl caught passing for white. Marlee decides that doesn’t matter. She just wants her friend back. And to stay friends, Marlee and Liz are even willing to take on segregation and the dangers their friendship could bring to both their families.
This is the kind of story that really makes you think. In the Author’s Note, Kristen Levine says that her mother’s family moved away from Little Rock shortly before the events that happened in the book. If they had stayed, her aunt would have been one of the students affected. Her aunt says, “All my life I have wondered how I would have behaved if I had been a student at Central. I know without a doubt I would not have called names or been rude. But my real question to myself is, would I have been kind? I’m afraid I would have done nothing.”
Maybe I’m just an imaginary cat, but I think that is a question for all of us to ask ourselves every day. Am I being kind to those who need it most? The Lions of Little Rock by Kristin Levine—a definite two paws up!