Maddy’s Letter Essay #9 The Lions of Little Rock


    The year one of the books I read was, The Lions of Little Rock. This is a 298 page realistic fiction book written by Kristin Levine and published in 2012.

This year I did not meet my goal of 40 books, I only read about 25 books. I was really proud that last year I was able to meet my goal but this year I think I didn’t because I read a lot more large books that I normally do not read .

Kristin Levine was a 3rd grade teacher and wanted to become a screenwriter. She now lives in Virginia with her husband and 2 kids.

I really liked this book because I liked the characters and how they changed just by meeting each other.

I choose this book because I saw someone reading it then later at the book fair. Also because this book takes place in Arkansas in 1958 during the time of segregation and I really like learning about history and this was a very interesting topic that I wanted to know more about.

In this book the main character Marlee is a very shy and smart girl. She does not care to communicate with people and would much rather count prime numbers in her head which she often does when she gets nervous. At night she hears the lions in the Little Rock zoo and wishes she can be fearless like them. Then Marlee meets Liz. Marlee can barely talk to her but Liz won’t stop trying to get Marlee to conquer her fear. Liz decides Marlee should do a presentation with her in front of the class but on the day of the presentation Liz never shows up. Marlee then finds out Liz was “Passing” for white and was pulled out of school. Marlee is devastated and knows she needs to do something. The two of them start to meet in secret but then some of the black families including Liz’s start getting threatened and she is now forced to stay away from Marlee. Marlee joins the WEC, Women’s Emergency Committee to help open schools to everyone. She need her friend back. Then her family joins the fight, even her mother who was for segregation but had a change of mind. They all fight hard to get the required amount of black and white votes to remove the school board members for segregation from the board, and allow everyone no matter what race into schools. Marlee gained confidence with her great achievement and was able to roar like the lions with no fear.

The main character developed a great amount of confidence throughout the book. She was able to stand up for what she believed in and be heard. She made a big difference and really came out of her shell and started to open up more.

I liked the way the author gave Marlee little habits that really defined her personality very well. For example she would count prime numbers or she would decide the kind of drink people were. She said that her maid Betty Jean was “ not just plain water, but with a twist of lime that was all her own.

The main character, Marlee and her best friend Liz were very different in the beginning of the book, almost complete opposites and I really liked that the author did that because it showed how similar they were in the end.

I was struck by the passage on pages 269-270. This passage was said by Marlee’s math teacher. He is someone who she really trusted and liked. In this passage he gives her very important advice.

“‘I am happy we won’ I said ‘ so how come I don’t feel better?’

He looked thoughtful and said nothing for a long moment, then pulled out a pencil and started to write on the blank piece of paper I had before me.

‘I think what happened, Marlee is that you’ve realized that the world isn’t an addition problem.’

He wrote 3+4=7 down on the paper.

‘We tell kids that sometime. We pretend the world is straightforward, simple, easy. You do this, you get that. You’re a good person and you try your best, and nothing bad will happen. But the truth is, the world is like an algebraic equation. With variables and changes , complicated and messy. Sometimes, there are more than one answer, sometimes none, sometimes we don’t even know how to solve the problem but if the take it step by step we can figure it out.’”

I really like this passage because it is something that I can relate to. Sometimes I will try my best and not always get the greatest results and if I do something good I want everything to go well for me but that does not always happen and everyone runs into problems but if we “take it step but step” we will get through it.

I would give this book a 9 out of 10 because I really enjoyed seeing what it was like to live during a time of segregation and I thought the moral of the story was really good too.


Maddy O  

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