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In 1958, Mendy puts herself in danger when she discovers that the Ku Klux Klan is planning to bomb the Highlander Folk School in order to disrupt a visit from Mendy's hero, Eleanor Roosevelt.


In 1958, 12-year-old Mendy Thompson discovers nighttime intruders in her secret forest clearing in Monteagle, Tennessee. They're members of the KKK and are plotting to bomb Highlander School during a speech by Mendy's hero, Eleanor Roosevelt. With no one to turn to, Mendy must find a way to stop the KKK herself.

This book originally published by American Girl in their History Mystery Line is published now by Windmill Books, Skyview, Mysteries Through Time. Sold in eductional markets and a few online services.  s 

Circle of Fire Book review- "A lovely piece of fiction." - Dallas Morning News

Review: Circle of Fire - "As readers learn in an afterword, the events in this intriguing story are based on a true incident: Eleanor Roosevelt did speak at the school, and the FBI foiled a Klan plot to disrupt her visit." - Shelley Townsend-Hudson, Booklist - - Book Review:

Children's Literature

This latest installment to the "American Girl" series of "History Mysteries" will captivate readers. This is the compelling story of two young friends, Mendy and Jeffrey. They are having difficulty maintaining their long-time friendship in a southern town in Tennessee during 1958. Mendy Thompson is a young black girl. She has discovered that a group of men have been meeting in her secret hideaway in the woods near her home. One evening she hears their voices plotting and planning to take part in an awful scheme of hatred and violence. Jeffrey has been Mendy's best friend since they were toddlers. Jeffrey is white and his parents think it does not look good for him to be friends with Mendy. They have forbidden Jeffrey to see her. The two friends work through thoughts of betrayal and together, they thwart the plan of evil plotted by the men in the woods. Readers will love the realistic characters and will be riveted by the mystery and events of this dark past in America's history. Mendy and Jeffrey together prove that good always overcomes evil. A great message anytime.

From Booklist 
Gr. 3-6. In this suspenseful novel in the History Mystery series, the time is June 1958; the setting is a small town in Tennessee. The heroine, an African American girl, Mendy, is best friends with Jeffrey, a white boy she has known all her life. But that summer, things change. Jeffrey's parents forbid him to play with Mendy; and Mendy's mother won't let her go to the Highlander Folk School, where blacks and whites study ways to improve race relations; and Mendy learns how insidious the Klan is when she accidentally discovers them in some nearby woods. Mendy is thrilled to learn that Eleanor Roosevelt plans to speak at Highlander, but her excitement is short-circuted when she and Jeffrey uncover a Klan plot to bomb the school. As readers learn in an afterword, the events in this intriguing story are based on a true incident: Eleanor Roosevelt did speak at the school, and the FBI foiled a Klan plot to disrupt her visit. Shelley Townsend-Hudson


The year is 1958. Mendy is 12 years old and she's kind of a loner. She likes to play in the woods near her house in rural Tennessee. Mendy has a secret clearing that she claims as all her own---she calls it "The Taj Mahal". Mendy goes there to sit in the still beauty of the mountain forest and visit her cottontail rabbit, Mr. Hare. She saved him from her father's trap when he was a baby, and she raised him until her father told her to release him to the wild. Instead, she took him to her clearing, where she can visit him often and where he's happy and safe.

Mendy's best friend is Jeffrey, who's 14. They're more than best friends, really; they're blood brother and sister forever. But Mendy is black, and Jeffrey is white. Folks think they're getting too old to be friends anymore. In 1958, the South was segregated by law. White people and black people couldn't even drink from the same water fountain, so they certainly couldn't be best friends.

At first Mendy and Jeffrey stay friends secretly, leaving notes in their hiding place when they need to meet. But Mendy's mother catches them talking one day, and she threatens to tell Jeffrey's father. He begs her not to, and he promises he won't ever see Mendy again. Mendy is outraged, and she calls him a traitor.

Losing Jeffrey as her friend, though, leaves Mendy with nobody to turn to for help when she starts having serious problems at her clearing. She sees signs of trespassers, and she tries to warn them away. But the  trap she sets causes even more trouble. Mendy learns that the trespassers are not bored teenagers, like she thought, but adults with dangerous intentions. How can Mendy and Jeffrey fight evil---especially from people they have known all their lives?

CIRCLE OF FIRE is a well-written book about life in the segregated South. It's based on a true event, and the facts of life that it presents about those days are very real. You will want to read about how things were, and the brave people who were determined to change them forever.

   -- Reviewed by Tamara Penny