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HOT PURSUIT: Murder in Mississippi

Author: Stacia Deutsch and Rhody Cohon

Illustrator: Craig Orback

Reserve at the Library

Publisher: Kar-Ben Publishing,

Material: hard cover

Summary: Michael Schwerner and Andrew Goodman, both Jewish, had moved to Meridian Mississippi in early 1964. They believed in equal rights and was determined to stop segregation. J.E. Cheney, a Meridian native and black teen, had been suspended from school for wearing an NAACP button. The three men had become quick friends, and one afternoon, as J.E. was driving them back to the CORE office after a day's work, a policeman stopped them. They had not been speeding and were not breaking the law, but the white people didn't like what was going on. The men were taken to jail and held for seven hours. When they left the police station, they were ambushed and killed by KKK members. This is an illustrated chapter book about an event during the Civil Rights Movement in 1964.

Type of Reading: independent reading, read aloud book, reluctant reader, remedial reader

Recommended Age: read together: 8 to 10; read yourself: 9 to 12

Interest Level: 9 to 11

Reading Level: 3

Age of Child: Read with an 8-year-old girl.

Young Reader Reaction: My daughter was very angry about this book. She has learned about the Civil Rights Movement in school, but was very upset about this incident. She started questioning why we have police officers "like that."

Adult Reader Reaction: I had not heard about this event (though my husband had). I found the story incredibly compelling and very well done. The flashbacks inserted into the descriptions of what Michael (Mickey), James (J.E.) and Andrew faced added a lot of context without a lot of words. As important as it is, based on my daughter's reaction, I think parents probably need to read it first so they can be prepared for the questions and emotional response.

Pros: This vivid, well-written account brings kids up close and personal to a story about three heroes of the Civil rights Movement.

Cons: Although this could be read independently by middle-elementary aged students, it is best shared by/with an adult the first time through.

Borrow or Buy: Borrow, at least. This is an excellent book that all students should read and have access to. It may be better suited to the school or public library than a home library, but it is certainly a must read.


Educational Themes: There are lots of facets to explore in this book, from the individual characters themselves and the emotions they felt upon being stopped, to the "logistics" of the Civil Rights Movement and efforts like CORE, the KKK, and student movements. It may also be interesting to talk about how religion did/didn't influence these individuals.

Notes: The publisher donated a copy of this book knowing that we would consider it for review and provide an independent, unbiased profile. This book will be given to a nonprofit to help readers in need.

Literary Categories: Nonfiction - US history, black history, 1960s, Judaism, middle grade

Date(s) Reviewed: August 2010, December 2014

Other Reviews: No Critics Reviews found; see reader feedback at


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