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Going, K. L.
THE LIBERATION OF GABRIEL KING
New York : Putnam's, 2005
IL 5-8, RL 5.8
ISBN 039923991X

(4 booktalks)

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Click to hear an audio excerpt

Booktalk #1

We all have things that scare us.  Some people are afraid of the dark, or high places or, ick, spiders.  Gabriel King is afraid of lots of things.  So his best friend, Frieda, comes up with a great plan that she thinks will help him be braver.  She has Gabe write up a list of all the things that scare him, including entering 5th grade in the fall.  One by one, they will work on those fears until they can cross them all off.  Good plan, right?  Do you think it will work?  And what kinds of things are Frieda afraid of?  Join Gabe and Frieda as they work on their lists during the summer of 1976.

Booktalk #2

MY BEST FRIEND, FRITA WILSON, ONCE TOLD ME THAT
SOME PEOPLE were born chicken.
ďAinít nothing gonna make them brave,Ē sheíd said. ďBut others, they just need a little liberatiní, thatís all.Ē Least thatís how Frita told it.
If youíd asked me before the summer of 1976, I would have
told you I was one of the chicken ones. If you could count
on anything, it was that I, Gabriel Allen King, didnít do
anything scary. I didnít climb out too far on the branches
of the pecan trees or ride my bike on the same dirt road the truckers used. I didnít pick up ugly-looking bugs that might have pinchers or walk too close to the cotton fields if anyone even hinted that the cows might be loose. Most of all, I didnít intend on going to the fifth grade, ever (Going, 2005, p. 1).
        Gabe and Frita are best friends in 1976 rural Georgia. They come from different backgrounds, but in spite of their differences they have formed a very close bond. Frita is determined to help Gabe face his fears and conquer them during the summer before they both start fifth grade. She instructs Gabe to make a list of everything heís afraid of so they can spend the summer crossing off each item as he conquers his fears. Frita also creates her own list.  The summer is full of funny adventures as Gabe faces his fears which include catching a big spider to keep as a pet, swinging off the tree rope into the catfish pond, and using his momís blender to prove that it wonít cut his hand off. Frita faces her own fearsóone of which is brussel sprouts!
     But as they continue to get liberated, they find that some of their fears are harder than others to overcome, especially when they are created by people in your life that you would rather just avoid altogether. During the summer of 1976, amidst the celebrations of the bicentennial of their country, they find that some of lifeís fears can be much harder to overcome than spiders and brussel sprouts. However, together they learn a valuable lesson about love and friendship. (Lynne Wainwright, Paine Primary, Trussvile, AL, USA)

Booktalk #3

Gabriel King knows he is a natural born chicken. He is scared of a lot of things such as spiders, alligators, falling in the toilet and killer robots. Gabriel is especially scared of starting 5th grade because of two bullies. His best friend, Frida, who is tough and very brave, vows she will help him overcome his fears during summer vacation. They start by making a list of things Gabriel is afraid of and then work on liberating him from each fear one by one. The plan seems simple enough, but as the summer goes on, events take place in this small  Georgia town, that make Fridaís own list of fears seem insurmountable.  (New Hampshire Great Stone Face 2007)

Booktalk #4

Gabriel King is filled with fear. Spiders, alligators, and a friendís older brother donít compare to his greatest fear; entering the 5th grade and facing the school bullies in the upper grade yard. His best friend, Frita, decides that she is going to help him confront his fears by forcing him to make a list of all his fears, and face them over the summer. What Gabriel doesn't realize is that Fritaís fears are deeper. Frita is African-American, and faces the prejudice that was existent in the South in 1976. E.L. Going has created a humorous and heart warming coming of age story, that teaches us about friendship, family, and overcoming hatred. Highly recommended for all students and their parents! (Mark Bobrosky,  LMT, NBCT, Walter Reed Middle School Library)

SUBJECTS:     Best friends -- Fiction.
                        Friendship -- Fiction.
                        Prejudices -- Fiction.
                        African Americans -- Fiction.
                        Race relations -- Fiction.
                        Self-confidence -- Fiction.

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