Armstrong & Charlie by Steven B. Frank

Publication date: 7th March 2017

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Meet Armstrong Le Rois & Charlie Ross as they both dread starting 6th Grade at Wonderland.

Charlie’s family live in Laurel Canyon in the Hollywood Hills, but most of Charlie’s friends are going to other schools, and by the end of the year, he’ll be older than his older brother every got to be.

Armstrong has to get up at 5.30am to get to Wonderland as part of the Opportunity Busing Program. He doesn’t want to be the token black boy in an all white school. He wants to stay at Holmes where he can get up at 7am.

This is the first year trialling desegregation in education in Los Angeles in 1975. In a world where racial prejudice is rife, can the boys overcome their differences?

Told in turn from each boy’s perspective, and packed with a wry humour, this is a heartwarming tale of fights, friendship, tolerance and understanding. The many threads are woven together masterfully to create tension and empathy for both boys, who are “different, yet the same.”

There are racially derogatory terms used within the story to recreate the era, but at no point do they ever feel as if they’ve been thrown in just to shock.

This is definitely one for my bookshelf. The tolerance, understanding and empathy depicted are needed just as much in our world today.

Proof courtesy of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing. Maybe you could send Donald Trump a copy too.

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