First is a book I booktalked just yesterday at an elementary school, and it went down like gangbusters. I start my booktalk by asking the fourth and fifth graders what they are afraid of. I get answers like heights, spiders, lightning, etc. Then I introduce some of the stranger fears from the book like loose cows, killer robots, and falling into the toilet. After calming down the giggles from saying “toilet,” I go on to explain that Gabriel King is afraid of all of those things and more, but the thing that scares him most is moving up a grade to the school where the big kids will bully him, and then I go on to talk more about the book. Here’s my mini-review:
The Liberation of Gabriel King
by K. L. Going
Gabriel King is afraid of everything — spiders, robbers, cows — but his biggest fear is moving up to the next grade, where he’ll be in the same school as the bullies who pick on him. His best friend Frita decides to take the summer to liberate Gabriel from his fears by facing each and building up to his biggest one. She’s rarely afraid, but one of her biggest fears is about to confront the pair head on as their cross-racial friendship catches the attention of the wrong people. Set in the deep south in 1976, this book is a comedy, drama, and historical fiction. With a deft and light touch, the story tackles fear, hatred, racism, but ultimately is about courage. And friendship. A Printz Honor Book from 2005, this absolutely wonderful book should not be missed.
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