The Rock and the River

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Overview

In 1968 Chicago, fourteen-year-old Sam Childs is caught in a conflict between his father's nonviolent approach to seeking civil rights for African Americans and his older brother, who has joined the Black Panther Party.

2010 John Steptoe New Talent Award winner

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The Rock and the River

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Overview

In 1968 Chicago, fourteen-year-old Sam Childs is caught in a conflict between his father's nonviolent approach to seeking civil rights for African Americans and his older brother, who has joined the Black Panther Party.

2010 John Steptoe New Talent Award winner

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up—Being the son of civil rights activist Rowland Child has never been easy, but adhering to nonviolence amid the 1968 racial turbulence in Chicago grows even more difficult for 13-year-old Sam to grasp. The boy adores his older brother, Stephen (better known as Stick), and wants to be just like him in sprite of their different approaches to life. Growing up is tough enough, but when Sam and his girlfriend, Maxie, witness a brutal, unprovoked beating of a friend by police, Sam struggles to be both a "rock and a river" as he tries to figure out who he is and where he stands. Which philosophy can he embrace? Can he accept his father's viewpoint which is closely aligned with that of his friend, Martin Luther King, Jr., or does he favor Stick's more militant ideas of the Black Panthers? The rich voice of Dion Graham brings the taut plot and well-developed characters to life, building suspense and providing insight into Sam's swirling emotions and the sometimes violent events that take place. The evocative language of Kekla Magoon's first novel (Aladdin,, 2009), winner of the Coretta Scott King John Steptoe New Talent Award, comes to life in this well-paced and deftly read production.—Maria Salvadore, formerly Washington DC Public Library
Julie Just
Magoon's first novel shows movingly how the two sons of a civil rights leader come to bear the cost of the struggle…convincingly detailed
—The New York Times
VOYA - Valerie Ott
Thirteen-year old Sam narrates his bird's eye view of the civil rights movement in this moving historical novel set in 1968 Chicago. Although the characters are fictional, the surrounding events, most notably the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., set the stage for Sam's tumultuous coming-of-age. The son of Roland Childs, a well-known civil rights activist, Sam is a quiet and pensive young man, more comfortable observing the world around him than actively participating in it. Sam's older brother, Stick, on the other hand, openly flouts his father's principles by joining the Black Panthers and leaving home, causing Sam to feel alone and confused about what his own role in the movement should be. When the police unjustly beat and imprison one of the boys' friends, Sam feels forced to make a choice between adhering to his father's pacifist ideals and following Stick's more aggressive approach to achieving equal rights. In an effort to make that choice, Sam attends both his father's peaceful rallies and meetings with Stick. Sam realizes that he has to pave his own way, however, when the story comes to a violent and startling conclusion with Stick's death. Teens may not gravitate to this one on their own; but with a little pushing, Sam's compelling, realistic voice and the author's expert control of the tension leading to the story's climax are sure to hold their attention. Fans of historical fiction will also appreciate this very personal take on such an important part of our country's past. Reviewer: Valerie Ott
School Library Journal

Gr 7 Up

Sam Childs, 13, is growing up in Chicago in 1968. His father is a civil rights activist, and the boy has been involved in peaceful demonstrations with his family. When he and his girlfriend, Maxie, witness the brutal beating of a friend at the hands of the police, his world begins to change dramatically. His 17-year-old brother brings a gun home and hides it in their shared room. Next thing Sam knows, Stick has run away from home and is involved with the Black Panther Party, whose philosophy his dad does not share. The brutality of the beating has wrought a change in Sam as well, and the good works he sees the Panthers doing in his neighborhood make him question his dad's opinion. The characters are well drawn and the complexities of the relationships between Roland Childs and his two sons are moving. The episodes of violence are graphic, but necessary to move the plot forward, and Magoon portrays well the tension between the Panthers and the Civil Rights Movement. An author's note provides further historical context. While the image of the Black Panther Party is somewhat idealized, this is an important book about a historical reality that has not been dealt with in juvenile fiction.-Kristin Anderson, Columbus Metropolitan Library System, OH

Kirkus Reviews
This compelling debut novel set in 1968 Chicago vividly depicts how one African-American family is torn between two opposiing approaches to the Civil Rights Movement. Fourteen-year-old Sam is the son of minister and civil-rights leader Roland Childs, a revered community figure and movement heavyweight whose counsel is sought by Martin Luther King Jr. Sam finds his faith in and respect for his father's stalwart commitment to nonviolence shaken when he discovers that Stick, his older brother and best friend, is involved with the Black Panthers. Sam is torn between the two people he looks up to most. As he poignantly wrestles over which direction to take, Sam both observes and experiences firsthand the injustice of racism. It takes a terrible tragedy for Sam to choose between "the rock and the river." Magoon is unflinching in her depictions of police brutality and racism. She offers readers a perspective that is rarely explored, showing that racial prejudices were not confined to the South and that the Civil Rights Movement was a truly national struggle. (historical note) (Historical fiction. 10-14)
From the Publisher
"An intensely significant story..." — Sundee T. Frazier, winner of the ALA 2008 Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent Award

"This is an essential story that has been waiting for its time and its teller. A brave and brilliant accomplishment." — Helen Frost, Printz Honor Award-winning author of Spinning Through the Universe

"Vividly, poignantly, and without compromise, Kekla Magoon takes us to the heart of a world in the messy business of monumental change. The Rock and the River is an extraordinary book that brings unflinchingly to life an extraordinary moment in time." — Tim Wynne-Jones, author of Rex Zero and the End of the World

"What a rich and passionate debut novel! With both intensity and humor, the story that unfolds is at once riveting, disquieting, and ultimately most satisfying." — Ellen Levine, Caldecott Honor Award-winning author of Henry's Freedom Box

"This explosive coming-of-age story, taut with tension and protest, propelled me along like the river of its title. Magoon is most certainly a new and serious talent to watch. An intensely significant story of emotional and historical depth that resonates with relevancy for our age." — Sundee T. Frazier, winner of the ALA 2008 Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent Award for Brendan Buckley's Universe and Everything in It

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781441858658
  • Publisher: Brilliance Audio
  • Publication date: 5/6/2010
  • Format: CD
  • Edition description: Unabridged
  • Age range: 9 - 14 Years
  • Product dimensions: 6.90 (w) x 7.10 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Kekla Magoon has worked with youth-serving nonprofit organizations in New York City and Chicago. She holds an MFA in Writing for Children from the Vermont College of Fine Arts and her first novel, The Rock and the River, won the Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe Award for New Talent. She resides in New York City and you can visit her at KeklaMagoon.com.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 27 )
Rating Distribution

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(19)

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(5)

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(2)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 27 Customer Reviews
  • Posted September 3, 2011

    Great book!

    This book really opens your eyes to what was going on and i almost cried.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 8, 2012

    Gr8

    This book is touching i almost cried

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 13, 2013

    AMAZING

    Fantastic Book ! Would Be A Great Book To Learn About The Civil Rights Movement.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 28, 2013

    Good not best...but good

    Preaty good book after all coildent ask for betta

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  • Posted May 12, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Set in Chicago in 1968, The Rock and the River is both historica

    Set in Chicago in 1968, The Rock and the River is both historical and historic in its honest inquiry into the Civil Rights Movement and racism in the United States. 13-year-old Sam has always followed the rules and done what he’s supposed to do. But what is a young black man to do in a world filled with senseless prejudice and violence? Sam’s father is a civil rights activist devoted to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and the principles of nonviolence. Sam’s older brother “Stick” secretly becomes a Black Panther committed to education and service, but not opposed to carrying a gun. Sam sees two police officers brutally beat his friend Bucky and charge him unjustly with assault and resisting arrest. When Dr. King is assassinated and Bucky’s case goes to trial, Sam is caught in the turbulence of change. Should he follow his father’s patient example or join Stick in seeking more immediate justice?

    While the story itself is fictional, Kekla Magoon includes an Author’s Note explaining the history behind Dr. King’s Civil Rights Movement and the Black Panthers. The racial and ideological conflicts, however, are merely the backdrop as Magoon hones in on the struggle of one middle class teenager unavoidably enmeshed in conflict. The depth of her characters and their relationships will challenge readers to probe their own hearts and minds. There are several violent scenes, but they are necessary to the story and not excessively graphic or sensationalized. Magoon also refrains from offering any oversimplified answers, allowing each of her characters (and empowering her readers) to find their own way. The clarity of language and elegance of style give the novel an element of grace that makes it worth reading more than once.

    Laurie A. Gray
    Reprinted from the Christian Library Journal (Vol. XIII, No. 3, August 2009); used with permission.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 5, 2012

    BEST BOOK!! I must say that this book really tells it how it wa

    BEST BOOK!!

    I must say that this book really tells it how it was and was a great way to see it from a young boy's perspective. It changed the way i see other people. This book is a must-read and. If you could only ready one book, let this be it.

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  • Posted March 2, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Moving

    Sam is an African American boy who comes of age in 1960’s Chicago. He is torn between the peaceful civil rights protests of his father and the Black Panther action of his older brother. This book is heartbreaking and uplifting at the same time. Well written books about racism generally piss me off, and this book had my emotions thoroughly engaged. The performance on the audiobook was also fantastic—the reader emotionally charged his voice at just the right levels at just the right times. I would recommend this book for older teens, but it should be screened before given to younger people. There is some realistic violence.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 1, 2012

    To the typers of nookbooks: YOU MADE A TYPO!

    In chapter twelve, page 191, you MADE A TYPO!!! INSTEAD OF TYPING THE "T" in "The", you put a "W", spelling "Whe." Its the first word in chapter 12, page 191!!! Fix it. Whe is not a word. Othet than that, its a good book so far.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 22, 2011

    Dull and Repetitive

    Kekla Magoon explores the era of the late 60's during the civil rights movement in Chicago, where Sam Childs, son of the known activist Roland Childs (both of which are fictitious characters), deals with the harsh reality of inequality and the decision between his father's method of non-violence and his brother's newfound ways of the Black Panther Party. He struggles between the two while juggling his relationship with his "girlfriend" Maxie. I found the relationship completely ridiculous and far too serious for their young age of thirteen. Magoon spends far too much time inside of this relationship than I thought was really necessary. The overall feel of the book was dull and repetitive as my title dictates. Sam endeavors into the same thoughts in every chapter, never seeming to make any progress in his thinking. The story itself progresses dreadfully slow and touches few aspects of Sam's life or the setting of the late 60's. Reading this book was a complete waste of my time.

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 8, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    A rock and a hard place

    Sam is a young boy stuck between the peaceful beliefs of his father and Martin Luther King Jr and the righteous thoughts of his older brother, Stick, who becomes a memeber of the Black Panthers. This book won the John Steptoe (Coretta Scott King) Award 2010 for the author's talent, and talented she is. After reading this book, I have passed it on to family members and friends. Readers can follow Sam as he faces obstacles and cruelty due to the Civil Rights movement. The details in this novel presents the ideals, barriers, and victims duing one of the most poignant era of American history. It is a book that should be placed on the shelves of both the classroom and the home.--FTD

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    Posted August 27, 2011

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    Posted May 25, 2011

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    Posted January 1, 2011

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    Posted February 11, 2014

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    Posted February 5, 2012

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