Spooked! How a Radio Broadcast and The War of the Worlds Sparked
the 1938 Invasion of America
by Gail Jarrow
Calkins Creek (August 7, 2018)
Nonfiction * Performing Arts * Television & Radio
Audience: Grades 5 to 9
Indiebound | WorldCat
Description from Boyds Mills Press: Acclaimed author Gail Jarrow explores in riveting detail the famous War of the Worlds radio broadcast from 1938, in this nonfiction title. Jarrow highlights the artists behind the broadcast, the broadcast itself, the aftermath, and the repercussions which remain relevant today. On the night of October 30, 1938, thousands of Americans panicked when they believed that Martians had invaded Earth. What appeared to be breaking news about an alien invasion was, in fact, a radio drama based on H. G. Wells’s War of the Worlds, performed by Orson Welles and his Mercury Theatre players. Some listeners became angry once they realized they had been tricked, and the reaction to the broadcast sparked a national discussion about fake news, propaganda, and the role of radio. Archival photographs and images, as well as an author’s note, timeline, bibliography, and index round out this stellar nonfiction title.
Quick thoughts about the book:
When I was 12 years old, I discovered that my local library carried cassette tapes of old radio broadcasts from the 1930’s and 1940’s. I was fascinated by these cassettes and would listen on an rundown cassette player that I owned. One of the cassettes was the War of the Worlds. Obviously, I knew it wasn’t real. It was over 35 years since the original air date and though I didn’t have a lot of details about the night it had aired, I understood generally what had occurred. In case you haven’t heard the original broadcast, I have included it below.
The War of the Worlds, The Radio Broadcast of 1938:
Fast forward now to present day and 80 years since the original broadcast. Life is so very different. And yet, we still struggle with identifying what is real and what isn’t. Is what we are seeing on the television or from our personal devices real or fake? I can see how similar panic could happen today.
Gail Jarrow does an fabulous job of setting The War of the Worlds broadcast into its place in history. She also provides readers with a sense of who the “players” were and how they came about to put on this performance. Most young readers will not have a clear sense of who Orson Welles was nor an understanding of how radio played such a significant role in the life of families and their connection to the world. Yet, Jarrow through photographs and quotes from individuals works to provide that understanding.
What Jarrows also does so well is provide readers with an understanding of the consequences of such an incredible broadcast and the emotions it provoked. As a 12 year old, I never thought about what happened as a result of the broadcast. The possibilities of lawsuits and new policies for broadcasting never entered my mind. However, the adult me found this fascinating.
At the end of the book, Jarrow provides a timeline for readers, and more resources for children and adults to explore. Her research is extremely through and yet the text is accessible to both children and adults. You start reading and you don’t want to put it down. You might flip ahead a little but then you quickly go back so you don’t miss anything. Throughout the book, readers will appreciate the photographs from the time period and also the attention of the art designer to balance out the text with illustrations that reflect the story.
Whether this is your first book by Jarrow or have been a fan of hers, you will definitely want this book. Look for SPOOKED! at your local indie bookstore or community library.
About the author: Gail Jarrow is the author of many popular nonfiction books, including Red Madness, Fatal Fever, and Bubonic Panic. Her books have received numerous starred reviews, awards, and distinctions, including Best Book awards from the New York Public Library, School Library Journal, the Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, Kirkus Reviews, and the National Science Teachers Association.
Check out these other stops on the blog tour:
Monday, 9/10 The Nonfiction Detectives
Tuesday, 9/11 The Booklist Reader/Bookends
Wednesday, 9/12 KidLit Frenzy
Thursday, 9/13 Deborah Kalb Books
Friday, 9/14 Archimedes Notebook
Friday, 9/14 STEM Friday
Monday, 9/17 Ms. Yingling Reads
Tuesday, 9/18 Middle Grade Minded
Wednesday, 9/19 Mrs. Knott’s Book Nook
Thursday, 9/20 Middle Grade Book Village (with guest post by Gail Jarrow)
Friday, 9/21 Always in the Middle
Check out the giveaway:
A finished copy of SPOOKED! courtesy of Boyds Mills Press to one winner with a US or Canadian mailing address.
Don't forget to link up your nonfiction reviews...