|Susan Marcus bends the rules|
Author: Cutler, Jane
As a New York-to-Missouri transplant in 1943, ten-year-old Susan Marcus discovers a world of prejudice right in her own backyard and makes a small but courageous stand toward equality.
Download a Teacher's Guide
|Accelerated Reader Information:|
Interest Level: LG
Reading Level: 5.00
Points: 4.0 Quiz: 164282
|Reading Counts Information:|
Interest Level: 3-5
Reading Level: 5.70
Points: 8.0 Quiz: 62787
Common Core Standards
Grade 4 → Reading → RL Literature → 4.RL Key Ideas & Details
Grade 4 → Reading → RL Literature → 4.RL Integration & Knowledge of Ideas
Grade 5 → Reading → RL Literature → 5.RL Key Ideas & Details
Grade 5 → Reading → RL Literature → 5.RL Integration & Knowledge of Ideas
Kirkus Reviews (04/01/14)
School Library Journal (04/01/14)
The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books (A) (09/14)
Full Text Reviews:
School Library Journal - 04/01/2014 Gr 4–6—In 1943, the summer before she begins fifth grade, Susan Marcus's family moves from New York City to St. Louis. At first, the avid Yankee fan is apprehensive about relocating to Cardinals country and being able to understand the accents of her new neighbors. She is also surprised to find that in Missouri her family won't need to put up blackout curtains or volunteer for the air-raid watch. Susan encounters prejudice toward Jews, Japanese, African Americans, and even New Yorkers for the first time. Disgusted with Jim Crow laws that keep her from being able to go to the swimming pool or movie theater with her African American friend Loretta, Susan cooks up a plan to push the limits of the laws. The novel splendidly captures the place and time, from the heat and humidity (and lack of air conditioning), to childhood pastimes like roller skating, playing jacks, and drinking Kool Aid. Facts about the era are smoothly integrated into the story. However, due to the lengthy descriptions, the plot is slow to get moving, and most of the action takes place in the latter half of the novel. Although the author uses the terminology of the time to describe race (Japanese are referred to as Japs, Africans Americans as colored), the story is a gentler read than Mildred Taylor's Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry (Dial, 1976). Children will cheer for Susan's courage in defying the injustice in her world.—Jackie Partch, Multnomah County Library, Portland, OR - Copyright 2014 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.
Booklist - 05/15/2014 When Susan’s father loses his job during WWII, she and her parents move from the Bronx to Clayton, Missouri. Leaving her best pal, Marv, and their favorite team, the Yankees, and finding herself in Cardinals territory is hard. Still, Susan quickly befriends Marlene and also Loretta, a “Negro kid” who informs Susan that she talks funny. That summer, while Susan works on her Missouri accent, she also finds a way to rebel against Jim Crow rules. As events unfold, she observes prejudice against Jews and Asians as well as African Americans. It’s unusual to find a chapter book for younger readers that takes on the painful history of racial segregation and discrimination. By using Susan as the narrator, Cutler lets readers see life under Jim Crow through multiple perspectives: Susan sees basic injustice, while Loretta understands the situation more fully. Rebelling against discrimination is only part of this appealing story, but it’s the most memorable part. An enjoyable chapter book with great potential for discussion. - Copyright 2014 Booklist.
Bulletin for the Center... - 09/01/2014 Upon arriving in the small town of Clayton, Missouri, in 1943, former New Yorker Susan experiences deep culture shock: in her Bronx neighborhood, everyone got along and everyone thought about the war all of the time, while in Missouri there are still lingering Jim Crow laws and you’d hardly know there is a war going on. When she and her new friend Marlene become friends with Loretta, the young African-American girl who lives illegally in the basement apartment with her mother, Susan wants to challenge the Clayton status quo, and the thee girls decide to peacefully take on Jim Crow by riding a bus together through town. The story is largely an episodic series of summer snapshots infused with Susan’s growing social awareness, and the slim novel is generally successful at portraying a period in history through an individual point of view. Susan’s perceptions seem at times anachronistically contemporary, though, and the bus event fizzles as a great act of defiance, leaving the story without a major conflict and resolution. The novel may nevertheless appeal to young readers who, like Susan, seek ways to challenge injustice as well as those who simply appreciate a solid friendship story. HM - Copyright 2014 The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois.