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RIOT by Walter Dean Myers Kirkus Star


by Walter Dean Myers

Age Range: 11 & up

Pub Date: Sept. 22nd, 2009
ISBN: 978-1-60684-000-9
Publisher: Egmont USA

In a screenplay format similar to his groundbreaking Monster (2000), Myers tells the story of the Civil War Draft Riots in New York City. Aerial camera shots—zooming in, panning away—take viewers from present-day Manhattan through history, settling in on July 13, 1863, effectively establishing the context for the play. Fifteen-year-old Claire Johnson, daughter of an Irish mother and African-American father, could pass as white but chooses not to, but her identity crisis mirrors the upheaval the city faces as Irish mobs—angry at the federal government’s Civil War draft, blacks they see as taking their jobs and wealthy “swells” who can buy their way out of the war—attack blacks in the streets, loot stores and provoke soldiers into firing into crowds. The large cast of characters gives voice to the various players in the historical event, including Walt Whitman, whose words add philosophical depth to the story. Another innovative work by an author constantly stretching the boundaries of what fiction can be, and a natural for readers’ theater in the classroom. (Historical fiction. 11 & up)