1968 was an intense year: we lost Dr. Martin Luther King and Robert F. Kennedy to assassins’ bullets; the Vietnam war raged overseas while protests raged here in the States; Olympic athletes raised their hands in protest and military police marched on the Plaza de las Tres Culturas in Mexico City, killing students and civilians during a protest. Fifty years later, where are we? You may be surprised. Fourteen authors share their memories and discuss pivotal events in 1968 in this anthology. David Lubar (Campfire Weenies and Nathan Abercrombie, Accidental Zombie series) discusses stand-up comedy in 1968, while Lenore Look (Alvin Ho and Ruby Lu series) researches the Chinese Cultural Revolution of 1968 and the lasting impact on China’s citizens. National Book Award longlist nominee Elizabeth Patridge (Boots on the Ground) unites the anthologies with a running “Nightly News” prose poem that gives readers the stark cost of war: month by month tallies of American combat deaths, Vietnamese enemy combat deaths, and Vietnamese civilian deaths.
Each and every piece in 1968 is oustanding; it’s nonfiction that reads like fiction, bringing readers back to that contentious year. Black and white photos throughout capture moments like the Olympic Black Power salute and choppers over Vietnam. There are small moments and sweeping movements, but each observation helps draw important parallels between where we were and where we are; how much we have changed, and how much we have, sadly, remained the same.
The contributor list is an all-star cast of middle grade and YA writers: Jennifer Anthony, Marc Aronson, Susan Campbell Bartoletti, Loree Griffin Burns, Paul Fleischman, Omar Figueras, Laban Carrick Hill, Mark Kurlansky, Lenore Look, David Lubar, Kate MacMillan, Kekla Magoon, Jim Murphy, and Elizabeth Partridge. Publisher Candlewick offers a sample chapter on their website, and I’d love to see a reader’s/educator’s guide written, too. 1968 is an essential add to YA collections, and I’d love to see this on summer reading (and school year reading) lists. This needs to be added to curriculum, DOE.
1968: Today’s Authors Explore a Year of Rebellion, Revolution, and Change has a starred review from Kirkus.