Thursday, August 10, 2006

Mock Newbery or Printz: The Loud Silence of Francine Green by Karen Cushman

Title: The Loud Silence of Francine Green
Author: Karen Cushman
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
ISBN: 9780618504558
Starred review in: Booklist (July), Kirkus (July 1), SLJ (August)
Review: This is the city, Los Angeles, California. But it's not the LA of today's celebrity tell-alls. It's 1949, a time when conformity kept you alive and questions were not allowed. Francine Green's new best friend, Sophie Bowman, has yet to learn the lessons of safety and silence. Sophie speaks up in their Catholic school class, challenging the nuns' statements about war, peace, protesting, and Communism. For this, Sophie is punished, and Francine, though she's not known for being outspoken in the first place, resolves to stay quiet and out of trouble. For all her resolve, though, Francine can't help but question the oppressive world around her, including her father's plans to build a bomb shelter in the backyard. The book is filled with pop culture and news references that cement the zeitgeist of the McCarthy era.

This is a solid offering, if only because Karen Cushman on her worst day is still better than most other writers on their best days. Sophie seemed a little caricature-ish, but that could be because she was such a contrast to obedient Francine. I also liked that Francine's innocence as well as her ignorance never slipped; she never seemed wise beyond her years and her growth from accepting to questioning seemed very natural, using Sophie as the catalyst. Not a personal favorite, but far from a bad book. I've marked it as both Printz and Newbery because it seems to be a book that could go in either direction.
Reviewed by: Carlie W., BCCLS

1 comment:

Annie, PARA said...

I agree with this review. Personally, I feel it is definitely more Newbery than Printz. It's equivalent to The Outcasts of 19 Schuyler Place to me in terms of age appropriateness and reading level.