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They Called Themselves the K.K.K.: the Birth of an American Terrorist Group (audio)
labandbooks
proseandkahn

by Susan Campbell Bartoletti. Unabridged book on four compact discs, 4 hrs., 25 mins. Read by Dion Graham. Brilliance Audio, 2010. 

From the back cover: "Boys, let us get up a club." Six words and six restless, rich boys who raided a linen closet in order to disguise themselves as they went about their hijinks gave birth to what Bartoletti calls an American terrorist group. Their original intention seems to have been to have some fun scaring the local black population; but as the reality of the economic devastation of the south and the perception that racial equality was unacceptable hit home, the group became more organized and increasingly violent. 

The group was modeled on the Greek fraternity system and included secret rites, initiations and meetings, as well as a well-defined hierarchy. Bartoletti vividly describes the events from the end of the Civil War through the Reconstruction. The words of those victims who gave testimony are painful to hear. The crimes committed against these brave souls are unimaginable but then, they were doubly victimized since much of the time, they received no justice through law enforcement. Often, the local sheriffs, judges and lawyers were among the robed and hooded Klan.

I read this one with my ears and intend to reread it with my eyes once my school's library copy arrives. Listening to informational literature is an interesting experience. So much of great informational literature for young people is quite graphic/ illustration intense.  My personal approach when reading informational literature with my eyes is to view the photos and read the text boxes before focusing on the text. I find that if I try to read the text first, I become distracted by the illustrations and lose the continuity of the story. However, when reading with my ears, the illustrations are lost, but I can give the narrative my undivided attention.

The genius with this production is that there is a bonus disc of all the illustrations, complete with captions. They can be viewed in a slide show with the captions read (by either the narrator or the author) or caption narration turned off. Additionally, the Civil Rights Timeline is provided, as well as the author's bibliography, source notes and acknowledgements. The author interview is also a valuable source for both social studies and language arts teachers to bring alive the research process. The story behind the story was as compelling. 

The narration, as performed by Dion Graham was riveting. I have enjoyed performances by him in the past. I loved Peace, Locomotion and We are the Ship (another intensely illustrated book that worked as an audio). Aside from the accents he employs when speaking the words of the many people who were quoted, his is quiet narration. He lets the horrors do the talking.

The book received its share of starred reviews and a great deal of Newbery and Sibert buzz. Additionally, it was a YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults finalist. Curiously, it was snubbed by the Sibert. I haven't yet read the winner and honors and it was a fabulous year for non-fiction, as far as I'm concerned, so I am not criticizing, just observing.   




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This was of my favorite NF of the year. I am very surprised and dissappointed it didn't get a Sibert honor. There was actually a lot of great NF this year, but only two honors.

In the past there have been as many as three Sibert honors. Two years there were four.

The audio sounds great, especially with the slide show

Hello Brenda ... I've been meaning to write and thank you for your many thoughtful comments on my blog (but January turned out to be a not-so-good month for reaching out). I just wanted to add a huzzah for narrator, Dion Graham, who is one of those narrators I actively seek out. A year ago, I'd gotten particularly geeky about him on my blog and he contacted me and I got a chance to meet him in person! So friendly and receptive. And that voice! Anyway, I first "met" him listening to What is the What (http://readingwithmyears.blogspot.com/search/label/What%20is%20the%20What). Yes, it's 20 hours ... but it's amazing!

Thanks for taking the time to respond! How exciting to meet "the Voice!" When I look for audios, I usually look for books that I'm eager to read, but I did search for other projects by Graham and listened to his performance of The Rock and the River. I'm trying to compose a post about it. The book destroyed me. Grahams performance was amazing.

I will definitely check to see if What is the What is available through my library.

See you around!

Brenda

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