Lions of Little Rock-1958

Cassie Lawlor

"2-4-6-8 We don't want to integrate!"

Do you like to talk during school? Marlee Nisbett doesn’t. At least not at school. When her sister’s school is closed due to integration,. Marlee would do anything to switch places with her. When Marlee starts school, a new girl named Liz arrives on the first day of school. Liz and Marlee become good friends, and most important of all, Liz gets Marlee to talk. The time period in this story is 1958. The title of this book is Lions of LIttle Rock and the author is Kristin Levine.

Marlee finally has a true friend! The conflict in this story is as soon as Liz and Marlee become good friends, Liz leaves Marlee’s school and does not come back. When Marlee’s teacher’s tell her that Liz is very ill and that she will not return to Westside Junior. Marlee doesn’t believe them. It can’ be true. It just can’t.

The truth is that Liz was passing as a white person when she was actually a light skinned African American. Marlee joins a club called the WEC. The WEC wants to reopen the high schools. Since Marlee is a member of the WEC, she helps pass out flyers for the election on whether the high schools should reopen or not and whether colored kids can go to the high schools. The WEC wins and the high schools will re-open the next year! Marlee and Liz have secret meetings at certain locations because they are practically inseparable. In the end, Marlee and Liz are still friends at heart, but they are not allowed to physically see each other. I believe that no matter what the circumstances are, a true friend is always a true friend.

9 Times Tables

Liz is Marlee Nisbett’s first real friend. One trait I would use to describe Liz is understanding. I think that this trait fits her best because when Marlee needs help with making a presentation in front of the whole class, Liz is is the first one to help her. For example on page 29, Liz says to Marlee, “It’s important to face your fears, it makes you a better person.” When Liz needs help with keeping her mouth shut at the appropriate time, Marlee helps her by telling her to recite the 9 times tables on her fingers.

In the story I think that Liz is a dynamic character because she changes throughout the book.. A dynamic character is one that faces some type of challenge. Liz’s challenge is that she has to try and pass as a white person and attend West Junior HIgh (a white school) , when she is actually black. I really got to know Liz and all about her family complications and how she deals with them. I think that Liz would be a great person if she were real and I would like to be her friend because she is understanding and has determination in her, just like me.

Segregation in Little Rock

Lions of Little Rock takes places in the time period of 1958. I know that segregation exists in this time because on page 7, Marlee’s dad says, “I can’t believe that the governor would rather close the schools than have you go with a couple of Negroes.”

Another fact that lets me know that blacks and whites were separated during this time was when on page 73, Marlee’s dad receives a note from the Ku Klux Klan. It says, “You let your youngest walk to school tomorrow, she won’t make it.”

One last fact that assures that segregation was going on in this book is when on page 73 (again), Marlee’s dad says to stay away from Liz and her family. His exact words are, “Segregationists don’t take kindly to Negroes who try to pass as white. Liz and her family are in real danger. The farther you stay away from them, the better.”


1958: 1st black in NHL (William O'Ree, Boston Bruins)
1963: JFK assasinated
1965: Cassius Clay becomes a Muslim & adopts the name Muhammad Ali
1972: President Nixon leaves Washington DC for China
1985: Cold front strikes US, at least 40 die (-27°F (-33°C) in Chicago)
2012: NHL player Sam Gagner becomes the first player to scores eight points in one game for the Edmonton Oilers against the Chicago Blackhawks since 1989

Klu Klux Klan in Little Rock

One turning point in Lions of Little Rock is when Marlee speaks a full sentence in school for the first time. Marlee’s first first sentence is “Please sit.” She says this to a new student named Liz after she asks if she could sit next to Marlee.

Another turning point during the story when Marlee has to present a history presentation in front of the whole class by herself. This is important for Marlee because she rarely talks.

One last turning point in Lions of Little Rock is when Marlee's father gets a letter from the Klu Klux Klan. This is significant in the story because this is when Marlee realizes how much danger she is in. She now realizes what is at steak when she and her friend Liz have secret meetings.