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"The Lions of Little Rock" by Kristin Levine; Putnam, $16.99.

Twelve-year-old Marlee is just starting middle school, her older brother has just gone off to college, and her older sister has moved out of the room they've always shared.

Marlee is so shy, she won't even talk outside her family. Then she makes a friend at school, a new girl named Liz. Then Liz suddenly disappears from school, and the rumor gets around that Liz is actually an African-American with such light skin she was "passing" for white.

And emotions about race are strong in Little Rock, Ark., in 1958. While most people probably remember the events of 1957, when nine African-American students integrated Little Rock's Central High School, fewer people know about the events of 1958, when all Little Rock public high schools, black and white, were closed to prevent school integration. This novel tells the fascinating story of how some Little Rock citizens, young and old, bravely stepped up to do the right thing, despite threats and intimidation by neighbors, co-workers andclassmates.

Another book by this author: "The Best Bad Luck I Ever Had."

-- Jean Westmoore



The Riviera Theatre and YWCA of the Tonawandas continue the Family Film Series at 11 a.m. Saturday with "Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked" (G) at the theater, 67 Webster St., North Tonawanda. Cost is $2. For information, call 692-2413.



In 1863, Johnny Clem was promoted to sergeant, making him the youngest noncommissioned officer in the U.S. Army. He was 12 years old.

-- Washington Post