Reading Along I-94: The Lions of Little Rock, Part 1

Each month Jen Vincent and I talk about a book together. This month we are chatting about The Lions of Little Rock.

lions of little rock

Part 1:

JEN: I had barely read the first three pages of Lions of Little Rock before I thought of you and Mattie Breen from Hound Dog True. Knowing how much you adore Hound Dog True and Mattie’s story, I had a strong hunch you would love this book.

COLBY: Mattie Breen is one of my favorite characters from 2011 and I’m guessing that Marlee will end up being one of my favorite characters from 2012. I’m not sure why I am so drawn to these shy insecure characters, but their stories just seem to draw me in.

JEN: The story starts with Marlee up on the high dive trying to find the courage to jump into the pool. Can I just say that I hated jumping off of the high dive – or even the regular diving board – when I was a kid? Until I actually learned to dive, I dreaded it. I am no good at jumping into water without plugging my nose. Lame, I know, but I just never figured it out. I can totally relate to Marlee with the diving board. I wouldn’t even make it up to the board, I’d rather just watch.

COLBY: I felt so bad for Marlee (I keep wanting to call her Mattie) when she couldn’t jump off the diving board. It is so hard for kids when they feel like they are the only person scared of something. I think the opening high dive scene did a nice job of introducing us to Marlee and her story.

JEN: I actually just remembered that in college, when I was a camp counselor, I did learn how to do a back flip off of a diving board. Needless to say, I outgrew my shyness by the time I went to college. What is the scariest thing you have ever done?

COLBY: Hmmm… I would have to say that the scariest thing I have ever done would have to be

JEN: I was a super shy kiddo until high school. I was much more comfortable in high school and after that but having to do something new and go somewhere on my own without knowing anyone freaks me out. Now, it doesn’t really bother me, but then I would get so worried. If my dad was dropping me off for the first day of camp or the first day of school or anything first time, I would make him wait with me in the car until the last possible second or until someone I knew showed up. I wonder if we relate to Mattie and Marlee because there is a piece of their stories that really resonates with us? I mean, I have to believe everyone has felt nervous about something at least once in their life, right?

COLBY: Yes. I think we all feel nervous about some things. I get really nervous when I am around new people. I hate it. I definitely have a little piece of Mattie and Marlee in me. I think as I have gotten older my piece has gotten bigger.

JEN: One thing that I noticed that is different between Mattie from Hound Dog True and Marlee from The Lions of Little Rock is that Marlee is able to talk to her family and isn’t really shy around them, but Mattie did seem pretty shy around her uncle and her mom, right? I might be mis-remembering. I thought it was interesting how Marlee’s sister would encourage her to say two sentences to someone or so many words. I liked how Marlee had a good relationship with her sister and brother.

COLBY: I LOVED her relationship with her sister. One of my favorite parts of the book was when Marlee’s sister got her own room and Marlee missed her so much that she snuck in at night and slept on the floor next to her.


2 thoughts on “Reading Along I-94: The Lions of Little Rock, Part 1

  1. Hi Jen & Colby, I loved Marlee (& the book), thought it seemed so realistic that she slowly began to find courage for what she thought was important. Kristin Levine gave us such an insightful beginning to the character with the high dive scene, & Marlee’s feelings of inadequacy. Definitely we knew she’d have to find courage for something later on. So Colby, what is your scariest moment? You didn’t finish your sentence. Thanks for this discussion.


  2. Love Marlee, love Lions of Little Rock, and love your conversation! Jen you made me laugh when you shared your fear of going places where you don’t know anyone. I’m SO like that still! I can still picture the day when my DAD had to go in and sign me up for Driver’s Ed while I sat in the car because I was too nervous and scared to go in myself. I’m not sure I would have ever earned my driver’s license if he hadn’t done that! Thanks Colby and Jen for sharing your conversation about this fantastic novel!


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