From School Library Journal
Grade 4-7–In a small town in Georgia in 1976, Gabe King, who is white, and his friend Frita Wilson, who is African American, take on a special project. Gabe is determined not to go to fifth grade in the fall, in the "big kids" wing of the school where he will be one of the smallest students and at the mercy of bullies Duke Evans and Frankie Carmen. Frita, however, has determined to use the summer to liberate her friend from his fears and make sure he moves up with her. Gabe's narrative voice is open, direct, sometimes comic, and maybe a little hysterical: he has many fears, including Frita's teenage, body-building brother, Terrance. However, he agrees to Frita's plan, which includes liberating herself from her much shorter list. Going deftly balances the ugly face of racism with the more powerful forces of understanding, friendship, and family, which run broadly through the novel. Both Gabe and Frita come from loving homes that fully support the vision of brotherhood and equality of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and soon-to-be President Carter, and are committed to making that vision a reality.–Coop Renner, Hillside Elementary, El Paso, TX
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Gr. 4-6. "Could a chicken become a warrior and fight oppression?" Small for his age, Gabriel, 10, is scared of the bullies in his all-white trailer park in small-town Georgia in 1976. His tough best friend, Frita, the only black kid in his class, helps him to overcome his fear, and he's able to stand with her when the Klan threatens. As in Going's Printz Honor Book Fat Kid Rules the World
(2003), which was written for an older audience, the characters here are funny and brave and drawn with candor and immediacy. At first Frita is a bit too perfect, too strong and wise, and Going's message sometimes overwhelms the story, as when Frita makes Gabe list his fears, which he overcomes one by one. But there is lots of farce and fun, too--until the quietly building tension peaks with the terror of racist confrontation and the courage of people, adults and kids, who stand up together. Hazel RochmanCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved