On My Bookshelf: Jump Into The Sky by Shelley Pearsall

February 12, 2018

Jump into the Sky by Shelley Pearsall is narrated by Levi Battle, a teenage African American boy from Chicago who has little to no experience with racism and has never even heard of the "Jim Crow" of the South. His young age and innocence allow the reader to imagine the shock of coming into contact with experiences like being forced to sit in a blacks only section of a train or a storekeeper threatening one's life for entering through the front door of his shop. Read on for more of my review and ideas for classroom application.
The basic plot from Amazon: It's May 5, 1945. Carrying nothing but a suitcase and a bag of his aunt's good fried chicken, 13-year-old Levi Battle heads south to a U.S. Army post in search of his father—a lieutenant in an elite unit of all black paratroopers. The fact that his father doesn't even know he's coming turns out to be the least of his problems.

As Levi makes his way across the United States, he learns hard lessons about the way a black boy is treated in the Jim Crow South. And when he arrives at his destination, his struggles are far from over. The war may be ending, but his father's secret mission is just beginning—and it's more dangerous than anybody imagined. . . .

Shelley Pearsall has created an unforgettable character in Levi and gives readers a remarkable tour of 1945 America through his eyes. Jump into the Sky is a tour de force of historical fiction from a writer at the very top of her game.
Jump into the Sky by Shelley Pearsall is narrated by Levi Battle, a teenage African American boy from Chicago who has little to no experience with racism and has never even heard of the "Jim Crow" of the South. His young age and innocence allow the reader to imagine the shock of coming into contact with experiences like being forced to sit in a blacks only section of a train or a storekeeper threatening one's life for entering through the front door of his shop. Read on for more of my review and ideas for classroom application.


Why I liked it: Jump into the Sky is narrated by Levi Battle, a teenage African American boy from Chicago who has little to no experience with racism and has never even heard of the "Jim Crow" of the South. His young age and innocence allow the reader to imagine the shock of coming into contact with experiences like being forced to sit in a blacks only section of a train or a storekeeper threatening one's life for entering through the front door of his shop. 

Levi's attitudes about life also make him an interesting character. Despite being abandoned by his mother and left behind repeatedly by his father, Levi does not spend his time feeling sorry for himself and wallowing in self pity. His is remarkably independent and while his initial reaction to a difficult situation may not be cool and calm, he is able to reassess and work through most anything.

Classroom application: This historical fiction novel would be a great addition to a middle school or high school library. While it deals with racism, there is no mature content. The author even provides a teacher's guide on her website.

If your students have read and loved Christopher Paul Curtis's Bud, Not Buddy or The Watsons Go to Birmingham, Jump into the Sky, would be a great book to recommend next. Chronologically, it falls right between the two and could also be paired with a until on World War II to illustrate the experiences of African Americans during the war.

If you are interested in purchasing a copy of Jump into the Sky for yourself, you can find it on Amazon here.

Note: The Literary Maven is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

You Might Also Like

0 comments