If a Bus Could Talk: The Story of Rosa Parks

Overview

If a bus could talk, it would tell the story of a young African-American girl named Rosa who had to walk miles to her one-room schoolhouse in Alabama while white children rode to their school in a bus. It would tell how the adult Rosa rode to and from work on a segregated city bus and couldn't sit in the same row as a white person. It would tell of the fateful day when Rosa refused to give up her seat to a white man and how that act of courage inspired others around the world to...

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Overview

If a bus could talk, it would tell the story of a young African-American girl named Rosa who had to walk miles to her one-room schoolhouse in Alabama while white children rode to their school in a bus. It would tell how the adult Rosa rode to and from work on a segregated city bus and couldn't sit in the same row as a white person. It would tell of the fateful day when Rosa refused to give up her seat to a white man and how that act of courage inspired others around the world to stand up for freedom.
In this book a bus does talk, and on her way to school a girl named Marcie learns why Rosa Parks is the mother of the Civil Rights movement. At the end of Marcie's magical ride, she meets Rosa Parks herself at a birthday party with several distinguished guests. Wait until she tells her class about this!

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Underdeveloped poetic conceits short-circuit this profile of civil rights activist Rosa Parks. Marcie, an African-American child, is waiting for the bus to school when a strange bus pulls up; for some reason, she boards it. There is no driver, but the bus itself talks. It informs Marcie that she is riding on "the Rosa Parks bus," the very vehicle that Parks had been riding in 1955 when, refusing to give up her seat to a white man, she helped trigger the Montgomery Bus Boycott. (In a bizarre irony, Marcie is made to give up her seat, which is ostensibly intended for Parks.) The bus then recounts Parks's childhood, education and tireless work as a civil rights activist; Marcie's fellow passengers serve as chorus, intermittently chiming in, "Amen! Amen!... We know, we were there." The account is full of hard-hitting information but suffers from confusing prose ("The Montgomery Bus Boycott was the beginning of a national movement in which people of every race organized protests against segregation in their own towns"). Finally, Parks boards the bus, and it emerges that Marcie's fellow riders include Parks's husband and Martin Luther King Jr.; in a throwaway ending, Marcie debarks at her school ("I can't wait to tell my class about this!"). Ringgold's paintings help animate this uneven tale, but a depiction of the bus with facial features, hair and hat compromises her powerful folk-art style. Other picture books chronicle Parks's life more lucidly; this is a disappointingly bumpy ride. Ages 5-9. (Nov.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Publishers Weekly
A contemporary schoolgirl boards the bus on which Rosa Parks rode in 1955 when, refusing to give up her seat to a white man, she helped trigger the Montgomery Bus Boycott; and it speaks. "Ringgold's paintings help animate this uneven tale, but a depiction of the bus with facial features, hair and hat compromises her powerful folk-art style," wrote PW. Ages 5-9. (Jan.)
Children's Literature - Heidi Green
Our narrator, a young girl on her way to school, boards an unusual bus and takes an enlightening journey in this fictionalized biography of Rosa Parks, civil rights activist. The bus tells its startled passenger Rosa's story, from growing up with the constant threat of a Ku Klux Klan attack to her act of passive resistance against the segregation of bus passengers. Faith Ringgold's account of racism in 1960's Montgomery is not meant to be comprehensive--but it is clear and concise, as is her explanation of the effects of Parks' courageous act. Her acrylic drawings are appealing and folksy. Readers will share the joy when the final passenger boards the bus and it is Rosa Parks herself.
School Library Journal
K-Gr 4-A talking bus is literally the vehicle for this picture-book biography. Marcie, on her way to school, finds herself on a driverless bus occupied by a group of unfamiliar passengers who don't seem to notice she's there. A disembodied voice tells her that this used to be the Cleveland Avenue bus but is now the Rosa Parks bus, and then launches into an account of the woman's life. Ringgold recounts the dramatic events triggered by Parks's refusal to give up her seat: the Montgomery bus boycott; the leadership, persecution, and death of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.; the Supreme Court decision to ban bus segregation; and public recognition of the woman who started it all. The story ends when Parks herself enters the bus for a birthday celebration with the passengers who are now revealed as personages from her history. While the artifice of the talking bus and a few minor lapses in logic sometimes detract from a solid telling, the story does much to humanize a larger-than-life figure. Ringgold's colorful, textured acrylic-on-canvas paper paintings done in a na f style are a perfect complement to the stark realism of the events and the simple dignity of the subject. Color and line are used to suggest ideas, such as the turbulent purple, black, blue, and chalky white and the jagged forms depicting the Ku Klux Klan and bombings. Text and art harmonize, with print changing from black to white and appearing on each page in an interesting variety of layouts. An accessible telling and beautiful illustrations result in a worthy contribution to this developing genre.-Marie Orlando, Suffolk Cooperative Library System, Bellport, NY Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780689818929
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
  • Publication date: 11/1/1999
  • Edition description: 1 ED
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 897,608
  • Age range: 5 - 8 Years
  • Lexile: AD790L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 11.90 (w) x 10.30 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Faith Ringgold grew up in Harlem, has a master's degree in education, and has taught art in New York City public schools. Deeply influenced by the Black Power movement, Faith developed an art style based on her African-American heritage. She created a series of narrative quilts about the lives of black women, one of which inspired her first picture book, Tar Beach, winner of a Caldecott Honor Award and a Coretta Scott King Award for Illustration. She went on to publish several more acclaimed picture books, including Aunt Harriet's Underground Railroad in the Sky and My Dream of Martin Luther King. Of this book she says, "If that bus Rosa Parks was on could tell us what happened, its story would be better than anyone's. It was wonderful to write something children could accept. They are ready to imagine and have open dreams, like Rosa, who must have had a dream in order to stretch herself." Faith Ringgold divides her time between New Jersey and Southern California.

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