Pair Mr. Touchdown with:
The Bootleg Series, Vol. 4: Bob Dylan Live, 1966: The "Royal Albert Hall
Billboard Top Pop Hits: 1965
What Others Are Saying:
highly and enthusiastically recommend that all who care about racial justice, run right out to buy and read Mr. Touchdown.
Americans are uncomfortable dealing with race, bias, and discrimination. Mr. Touchdown requires readers to renounce racial
denial through evoking the sights, sounds, and emotions surrounding the desegregation of a Southern high school in 1965. In
addition to being a great historical novel, Mr. Touchdown is gracefully written. One wants to linger over the elegant writing.
Ms. Phillips, a Southerner by birth, has brought interesting and vivid characters to life and reminds us that race is a topic
that Americans must face bravely and forthrightly." Eva Paterson, president, Equal Justice Society
"This is a raw, believable story with strongly developed characters.
While a slim volume and a quick read, there’s a lot going on here. Some language appropriate to the time period is included
(the n-word, for one), so keep that in mind. Honestly, if it wasn’t there, the story wouldn’t read as true. Recommended
for readers aged 12 and up (though, again, some of the younger readers or their parents might be bothered by the language
– making it a good learning opportunity and something to discuss). This is a well-written book about a touchy topic
and would also work well in a classroom setting." Kimberly Pauley, Young Adult Books Central (4-star rating)
"It’s not often we hand out a perfect
score five hearts rating, but this Writers Notes Magazine award-winning YA novel is absolutely worthy of it. We grade the
plot, pacing, setting, characterization, dialogue, tell vs. show, point of view, symbolism, emotional content, comparison
to the genre, and mechanics. This wonderful story about what it was like to be a young black person in the Deep South during
the segregation-breaking 1960s is superbly written. It maxed out in all eleven categories, which is a rare happening here.
Eddie and his sister Lakeesha are two of several bright black teenagers selected
by their minister father and two outside civil rights agencies to enter the all white Forrest High School. The children all
go through many frightening and humiliating experiences. Fortunately for Eddie, his natural athletic abilities force the football
coach to use him in a game, which he helps win. He finally gets acceptance, but not his sister, who is badly injured by red
neck youths. The author shows their reality through their eyes and hearts." Bob Spear, Heartland Reviews
"Eddie Russell, a black football star, anticipates enjoying his junior season at Douglass High School
south of Memphis, Tennessee, in 1965, but complies with his father Reverend Henry Russell's wishes when local civil rights
leaders select Eddie to integrate all-white Forrest High School. Epitomizing resiliency, Eddie; his studious sister, Lakeesha;
and two other African-American girls, Lethe and Rochelle; stoically attend classes, experiencing passive racism at first and
confronting academic inequities of segregated education when they discover better books and facilities in the white school.
Most students either ignore or taunt the black pupils; a teacher washes her hands after touching them, and Eddie's football
coach benches him for most of the season. Eddie strives to perceive good in his tormentors. Although the black children's
perspectives predominate, reactions of popular white cheerleader, Nancy Martin, depict her tolerance for her new classmates.
She befriends the black students, invites them to her home, and attends their church despite her friends' disapproval and
rejection. The racism escalates when classmates assault Lakeesha ... testing Eddie's commitment to nonviolence and forgiveness.
Based on the author's experiences as a teenager, this complex story explores young adults' experiences on school desegregation's
front lines. Pair with John Armistead's The $66 Summer (2000) or Mary Ann Rodman's Yankee Girl (2004) to discuss interracial
friendships and educational aspirations." Children's Literature
"Mr. Touchdown is a terrific read. Using vibrantly descriptive language, Lyda Phillips creates a living world of shop
class and gym teachers, pep rallies and pompoms, and pulls us right into it. Middle-school students and even their older brothers
and sisters will enjoy the breezy dialogue, fast-moving plot, and genuinely shocking twists and turns. Rooting her story of
radical social change in the familiar routines of high school, the author gives us a book that never abandons its characters,
and it succeeds as both social commentary and adolescent rite-of-passage. It’s also a warm and big-hearted book that
honors each of its central characters, without robbing them of their flaws and rough spots. It celebrates the unimaginable
courage of Eddie and, by extension, all the boys and girls who made history as they dragged an entire nation into becoming
better than it was." Midwest Book Review
“With rich description and smooth dialogue, this can’t-put-down novel moves us to the heart of the high-pressure
choices and explosive changes faced by Eddie Russell, his sister Lakeesha, and friends as they become the first black students
to integrate all-white Forrest High in the autumn of 1965. It’s a balanced and vividly accurate portrayal of the violence,
personal struggles, and inter-generational and community undercurrents of desegregation and non-violent movements for social
justice of the 1950s and ‘60s.” 2006 Writers Notes Book Awards judging panel, Writers Notes Magazine
"Great gift for teens! Could be part of every Social Studies curriculum. An entertaining chronicle of
the civil rights struggle, as told from the inside out, that is --through the eyes and voices of young people who were the
devices of their elders, black and white. 'Mr. Touchdown' would enliven any classroom comprehension and discussion of a time
of deep changes in human perceptions in America and in our definition of democracy. The warm, real characters embody true-to-life
young Americans, and their teachers and parents, confronting great social and historical pressures. Amazingly hard to put
down, for the reader --young or older-- becomes involved with the characters and intrigued with the outcome." R.
L. S. Kropf, secondary school teacher
"Mr. Touchdown ... touches on issues that were prominent in the
sixties and still exist today. Issues that we have yet to overcome. Mr. Touchdown is about a small group of African-Americans
chosen to be the first blacks integrated into a small-town high school. As Eddie, Lakeesha, Lethe, and Rochelle endure that
first year at Forrest High School, they will overcome terror, hate, and violence. And out of this will emerge the beginning
of understanding, acceptance, and new friendships. But all of this comes at a price, one that, to me, seems to be a terribly
high one to pay. It saddens me to think that such hatred existed, still exists. A hatred so strong that it seeks the destruction
of innocence. It is shameful that such acts persist in today's world, it is shameful that we have not learned to embrace one
another. ... I have to applaud Lyda Phillips's writing, for this book is nearly flawless. ... Everyone, particularly those
filled with hate, should seek enlightenment by picking up a copy. For we all should learn from our past shames and work together
to prevent them from ever happening again." Michael Hoffman, Gloomwing Magazine
"Mr. Touchdown offers the reader a peek into the turmoil facing many students,
black and white, during 1965 as they face changes in their lives when the law demanded that the schools be desegregated. Athletes,
straight A students--none of that matters; everyone knows they
are dirty, they
cheat and they
compete with white students. [And on the other hand,] everyone knows they
are bigots, hate everyone not white and
have no compassion. Facing the anger and outright hatred of many of the teaching staff as well as fellow students is something
few of us can honestly say we have experienced. Integration forced black and white to look within themselves and find the
commonality of humankind. It was not always an easy struggle." The Compulsive Reader
"In the wake of Hurricane Katrina doubt has again been raised as to the status of the equality of opportunity and the
quality of life for minorities in our culture. Mr Touchdown addresses racism and segregation head-on for teenage readers.
... History, English, and Civics teachers will undoubtedly use the book as a study in the significance and difficulties of
school integration in the 1960s. This is a book not to be missed." Judith Nasse, Taos, N.M.
real page-turner. ... The author has with accuracy and sensitivity dealt with a volatile page out of our history in a way
that doesn't pull punches, doesn't condemn, and concludes with a teen scene rich in layers, one being hope for the future,"
Wilmoth Foreman, author of "Summer of the Skunks"
“This book should be required reading
for all people who wish to make a difference.” Laura Bobbitt Crocker, Memphis, Tenn.
story beautifully encapsulates the quintessential struggle of youth to find its own agenda amidst the competing agendas of
family, friends, and culture. Like all good coming-of-age and finding-yourself tales, this one deals with fear and courage
... full of characters who will stick with you long after you've put the book down." Jennifer Rasmussen, author,
5-star review from Blog of Books