Gabriel King believes he was born chicken. He’s afraid of spiders, corpses, loose cows, and just about everything related to the fifth grade. If it’s a choice between graduating or staying in the fourth grade forever, he’s going to stay put–only his best friend, Frita Wilson, won’t hear of it.
“Gabe,” says Frita, “we got to do something about you.” When Frita makes up her mind, she’s like a locomotive–there’s no stopping her. “First, you’re going to make a list. Write down everything you’re afraid of.”
Gabe’s list is a lot longer than he’d like Frita to know. Plus, he can’t quite figure out how tackling his fears will make him brave. Surely jumping off the rope swing over the catfish pond can only lead to certain death . . . but maybe Frita knows what she’s doing. It turns out she’s got her own list, and while she’s watching Gabe face all his fears, she’s avoiding the fear that scares her the most.
With wisdom and clarity, K. L. Going explores the nature of fear in what should be an idyllic summer for two friends from different backgrounds. For them, living in a small town in Georgia with an active Ku Klux Klan, the summer of 1976 is a momentous one. It’s the summer they discover what courage is all about.


From the Compact Disc edition.
It’s the summer of 1976 in a small town in Georgia. Gabriel King has just finished fourth grade and is scared about fifth. In fact, he’s scared of many things: spiders, alligators, falling into the toilet, killer robots, corpses, swinging off the rope swing, his neighbor Mr. Evans and bullies at school. His best friend Frita is out of to liberate Gabriel from his fears. She has him make a list of them and work through them one at a time. However, Frita, who is African-American, has fears of her own and the story becomes a study of standing up to fears and bullies, from the school yard to the Klu Klux Klan. Strong voice, lively dialogue, humor and important themes make this a winner. Readers will enjoy following the sometimes-tempestuous friendship of Gabriel and Frita, and they’ll be completely absorbed in watching the friends and their community come together to stand up against the evil within.

-Kirkus Reviews, starred review