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We Were the Fire

Best Seller
We Were the Fire by Shelia P. Moses
Hardcover $17.99
Sep 06, 2022 | ISBN 9780593407486

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  • Sep 06, 2022 | ISBN 9780593407486 | Middle Grade (10 and up)

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  • Sep 06, 2022 | ISBN 9780593407493 | Middle Grade (10 and up)

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  • Sep 06, 2022 | ISBN 9780593610190 | Middle Grade (10 and up)

    178 Minutes

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Praise

* “An African American tween finds a way to contribute to his community’s struggle for an end to segregation. . . . Moses takes readers inside the movement that saw its youngest become effective challengers to the segregation status quo. Her narrative seamlessly weaves a personal family story with the larger one of the fight for change. Rufus is an engaging, thoughtful narrator whose voice and perspective ring true as he works to make a difference, even disobeying his mother, who is terrified about what might happen. The love and determination of his community are realistically and richly portrayed. A stirring, cleareyed look at the young people who risked much for social change as they fought for their civil rights.” —Kirkus Reviews, starred review

* “Moses (The Legend of Buddy Bush) pays homage to Black children living during the civil rights era whose contributions to the movement were often left undocumented, in this riveting historical fiction volume set in 1963 Birmingham, Ala. . . . Birmingham and its citizens, culture, and struggles are empathetically wrought in this eye-opening novel. With intention, Moses thoughtfully highlights the real-world horrors that Rufus courageously faces—including police, fire hoses, and dogs—and provides levity through his introspective and energetic first-person narration.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review

* “Rufus is a keen observer . . . Rufus’s voice is appropriately child-like, even though he, his family, and friends experience overt racism and threats. He is a thoughtful and endearing character, even while suspense is high. The setting and strong sense of community among his Black neighbors are vividly drawn. This compelling and powerful story will resonate with many readers. A first purchase.” —School Library Journal, starred review

“Moses leads readers into the scene through the eyes and voice of eleven-year-old Rufus Jackson Jones Jr., rooting these historical events in a memorable family story. Rufus’s mama and stepdaddy tell him and his little sister, Georgia, that they are too young to join the protests, but Rufus does anyway. . . . He wonders where the fire is but realizes that the protesters ‘were the fire,’ a fire the police intend to extinguish, but also a fire igniting the passions of citizens seeking justice. This is a good match with Christopher Paul Curtis’s The Watsons Go to Birmingham — 1963. . . . Moving and memorable . . . and the author’s note is important reading in its own right.” —The Horn Book

“Rufus’ evocative first-person narration builds a backdrop of the weeks leading up to the 1963 Children’s Crusade, in which thousands of mostly Black students marched in protest from the Baptist Church toward city hall, where they were met by the city’s racist police force, who resorted to brutal tactics to stop them. Moses packs a lot of details into a trim page count, creating a fully realized family of characters while depicting historical events and the horrific consequences of systems of white supremacy. An author’s note elucidates Moses’ rationale for ending the story on a particular date in 1963 and chronicles the triumphs and horrors of the historical events that happened in the aftermath of this story, preceding the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.” —The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

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