STARRED REVIEW
March 2017

A friendship born out of sweeping social change

By Steven B. Frank
Review by

Charlie Ross is not looking forward to starting sixth grade, since his best friends will be attending different schools. His dad says new kids from a black housing development will be coming to Charlie’s all-white Wonderland Avenue School. Armstrong Le Rois is not looking forward to starting sixth grade either. Waking up at 5:30 every morning to take a bus to attend an integrated program at Wonderland is not his idea of fun. Charlie and Armstrong butt heads more often than not, but a weeklong class camping trip gives the boys an opportunity to build a friendship. 

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Charlie Ross is not looking forward to starting sixth grade, since his best friends will be attending different schools. His dad says new kids from a black housing development will be coming to Charlie’s all-white Wonderland Avenue School. Armstrong Le Rois is not looking forward to starting sixth grade either. Waking up at 5:30 every morning to take a bus to attend an integrated program at Wonderland is not his idea of fun. Charlie and Armstrong butt heads more often than not, but a weeklong class camping trip gives the boys an opportunity to build a friendship. 

Inspired by his own childhood experiences, debut author Steven B. Frank spins a tale that goes beyond racial issues. In first-person juxtaposed narratives, Armstrong and Charlie captures the viewpoints of two preteens caught in the shifting tide of school integration. While sprinkling his tale with popular vintage games, music and food of the 1970s as well as uproarious humor, Frank weaves in a poignant “out of every conflict comes an opportunity” theme based on Charlie and Armstrong’s relationship. Replete with unforgettable moments, young love and unexpected plot turns, this is a hilarious, heartwarming and timely read.

 

This article was originally published in the March 2017 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

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Armstrong and Charlie

Armstrong and Charlie

By Steven B. Frank
HMH
ISBN 9780544826083

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