Ringside, 1925: Views from the Scopes Trial
How many of us remember learning about the Scopes Trail in our social studies class? It was one of the most controversial trials in American history; J.T. Scopes, a high school teacher, was arrested for teaching evolution in his classroom. I must admit, I didn’t remember much else about the trial.
Now enters author Jen Bryant, who not only decided to present this trial for young adult readers, but also courageously set out to write it in verse. Ringside effectively informs readers while holding its own as a great read. Bryant’s verses provide perspectives of the trial from students, townspeople and reporters. She gives us a taste of 1925 America, specifically Dayton, Tennessee.
Bryant’s verses show us the circus-like atmosphere that surrounded the trial, but also the soda fountain plot that led to the arrest and the disintegration of the friendship between attorneys Charles Darrow and William J. Bryan.
I’m not sure how many teens will grab this heady title off the shelves themselves, but they’ll be happy if they do. By the time readers reach the middle of Ringside, they’ll put everything aside they learned in the classroom and will anxiously await the trial’s outcome as if they’ve never heard it before. Ages 12 and up.