The Book

by Inbar Leibovich


Character Interview

Franny was an average girl who lived through the exciting year of 1962. Throughout the novel, Franny goes through many problems, such as the cold war, her sister, who disappeared, her former friend, who now hates her, the crush she has, and her changed brother. However, Franny survives these difficulties and manages to live through 1962.

During the book, Franny’s sister disappeared. In an interview with Franny, she explained she was angry at her sister for not telling her, but also worried. “I was very mad at her. In fact, I yelled at her over the phone. But, as I did love her in a sisterly kind of way,” she had said, “I was also very worried. I had no idea where she went, and I had a vague knowledge that she disagreed about it with Mom.”

After fighting with her used-to-be best friend, Margie, in the bathroom, Franny told our reporter that she felt sick when, in the principal’s office after the fight Margie told the principal (not directly, of course) that she was no longer friends with Franny. Franny further explained that the fight was about a letter stolen from Jo Ellen, but admitted that she wasn’t sure what led to the fight. “There was an increasing amount of tension between us,” Franny explained, “It started when Margie became friends with Gale. I don’t know why that fact led us to despise each other.”

When she was asked whether or not she thinks Arthur Otts (her uncle) knew she almost drowned him in pouring water on him after he had fainted, Franny answered negatively. She said that she does not think he was conscious enough to know who was pouring water on him or why, and perhaps wasn’t even aware of the fact that someone poured water on him.

As is written in the book, Arthur Otts at one point told Franny his brother’s death occurred because of him. Further, he said he had murdered his brother. When asked if she had believed him and how she felt, Franny said she did not believe him. “Uncle Otts wouldn’t kill a flea,” she claimed. “He talks about wars, but doesn’t do anything. But I was scared, and I was tremendously relieved when Jo Ellen reassured me it wasn’t his fault, and told me the real story."

Franny, who married Chris Cavas almost forty years ago, admitted having a crush on him when she was an eleven-year-old. She said she got very excited whenever she was near him, that she was always worried at being embarrassed near him, and that she was always happy to be near him. His every move was considered romantic by her, and she always expected him to do something gentlemanly.

Other than her personal life, the cold war gave Franny some trouble, too. She said, “Everyone was always listening to the radio, hoping to not hear anything too bad, hoping to stay updated, hoping a bomb won’t explode, hoping the war will just end, end, end. I was always extremely nervous near him.” People at the time were always scared because of the war.

As we’ve all read in the book Countdown, Franny Chapman (now Franny Cavas) was a very lively girl who had problems with friends, boys, and family, like everyone does at one point in their life. The difference is that Franny had to deal with a war. In this partly exciting, partly uneventful, and hard-to-connect-to novel, Deborah Wiles brings Franny’s childhood back in writing a book. The problem is that her life is not too interesting. I do not recommend this book, unless you do like reading about someone's very regular, pretty boring, and greatly implausible life.

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Countdown Book Review

The book Countdown, by Deborah Wiles, published in 2010, is about an eleven-year-old girl named Franny who lived through the 1960s. Although many critics think the book is hard to get into at first, most agree it does become a page-turner as you approach the climax. Unfortunately, the author doesn't manage to keep it up, and soon the author returns to an uneventful way of telling a story.

The main character is Franny Chapman, a fifth grader during the Cuban Missiles Crisis. However, Franny's problems stretch far more than just the war; throughout October, 1962, Franny deals with her sister's mysterious disappearance, her best friend's betrayal to her, and Franny's own crush on the boy next door.

If you've read and liked the book, other novels by Deborah Wiles include Lucy, Ruby Lavender; The Aurora County All-Stars; and Each Little Bird that Sings. Wiles lived in Washington, D.C., and, like Franny, sang in the glee club had a father who worked in the air-force.

I wouldn't recommend this book to those who like plausibility, as the characters aren't convincing and their action and decisions aren't logical, nor would I recommend it to those who need constant action, as there hardly is any. Even if you are a historical-fiction fan, you can definitely skip this book.

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Saturday, Oct. 27th 1962 at 7-9pm

2435 Avon Court, Westchester Estates

When in Doubt,

Party Out!

Relax, play, dance, eat, and, most importantly, have fun at this playful Halloween party!!!

Given by: Gale Hoffman

Special Instructions:

  • Wear a costume!
  • Bring your favorite record to dance to!

  • Please RSVP by Friday, October 26, 1962

Contact information: 555-2388

Hope you come!

Have fun!

Historical Corner

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The Cuban Missile Crisis

The Cuban Missile Crisis, which lasted only about two weeks (October 14-28, 1962) was a time in which the cold war almost became a nuclear war. It started when the Soviet Union built offensive missiles in Cuba, aimed at Washington, D.C. and other important American cities, in response to the invasion of the Bay of Pigs and the American missiles in Italy and Turkey aimed at Moscow. The two communist nations, Russia and Cuba, appeared to be working together under Nikita Khrushchev (the Russian Chairman) and Fidel Castro (the Cuban leader).

Soon after the missiles in Cuba were discovered by American planes, the United States established a military blockade on Cuba, not letting ships in or out unless inspected, to prevent the smuggling of more parts for the missiles. The U.S.A., under John Fitzgerald Kennedy (the American president), demanded the missiles be taken back to the USSR and that no more will be built.

When, on October 28, 1962, an agreement was reached between President Kennedy and Chairman Khrushchev, the missiles were dismantled and returned to Moscow. The Cuban Missile Crisis came to an end, and people all over the world were finally relieved of constant worry about an atomic bomb.

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A Guide to Hosting a Perfect Party!

If you read the book Countdown, which tells about Franny Chapman, you probably remember the Halloween party Gale Hoffman hosted. From the music, to the food and the dances, her party would have been perfect had Margie and Franny not fought. With this short-yet-useful guide, you will be able to host a party in which almost nothing could go wrong! However, there are some "ingredients" and steps in hosting a mind-blowing party. They are listed bellow.

Initially, a great party needs a great theme. Are you having trouble finding one? Some suggestions will be to consider the date, reasons for the party, time of the year, and any other circumstances that might apply.You can make rules, such as everyone needs to wear a costume.

Next, your party needs some more-thorough and detailed planning. One of these details is music. It's best to choose the songs and list them before the party. Have more song names than you need ready, just in case they don't last long enough. If you're planning to play a movie, you also need to choose it beforehand. Don't wait for the guests to vote because it might lead to unnecessary disappointments.

Also, you need to think about food. Consider any food regulations and allergies your guests might have; you don't want your friend to be stuck watching everyone else eat. Serving a dessert is almost necessary. Whomever heard of a party with no sweets whatsoever?

When you've done that, it's time to think about the guests. Know who you are inviting and the relations between them; if a few of them do not like each other, try to make sure they aren't close to each other during the party to prevent quarrels.

Now that you know who you're inviting, it's time to invite them. Make your invitations as impressive as you can. After all, people do judge books by their covers.

Finally, give your guest their invitations. Add an RSVP if necessary. And it's time to host your party! Have fun!