Reviews for Jump into the Sky

School Library Journal Reviews 2013 February

Gr 5-8--Thirteen-year-old Chicagoan Levi Battle has been living with his Aunt Odella ever since his father departed for the Army three years ago. Tired of this responsibility, his aunt announces that it's about time Levi's father started raising him, so she puts the boy on a train bound for North Carolina. It's 1945, and Levi is shaken by the segregation and bigotry in the South. When he finally reaches Camp Mackall, Levi discovers that his father's unit is no longer there. With the help of a soldier and his wife, Levi travels cross-country to Oregon where the Triple Nickles, an African-American paratrooper unit, is stationed on a secret mission. Reunited with his father, Levi eventually confronts and resolves his feelings about family, love, and loyalty. J. B. Adkins's heartfelt narration perfectly captures Levi's innocence and wonder at the experiences and challenges he faces over the course of the story. At times, his voice breaks, whether due to emotion or Levi's bourgeoning maturity, lending greater believability to the character. Adkins seamlessly switches between characters and gives each a distinctive voice, whether it's MawMaw Sands's lilting Southern drawl or Cal's earnest way with words. While Pearsall's use of local color and word choice add authenticity to the story (Knopf, 2012), it's Adkins who breathes life into the words. This coming-of-age tale will appeal to a broad audience, and particularly to fans of Christopher Paul Curtis.--Audrey Sumser, Cuyahoga County Public Library, Mayfield, OH

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