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Fifty years after her refusal to give up her seat on a Montgomery, Alabama, city bus, Mrs. Rosa Parks is still one of the most important figures in the American civil rights movement. This tribute to Mrs. Parks is a celebration of her courageous action and the events that followed.


Award-winning poet, writer, and activist Nikki Giovanni?s evocative text combines with Bryan Collier?s striking cut-paper images to retell the story of ...

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Fifty years after her refusal to give up her seat on a Montgomery, Alabama, city bus, Mrs. Rosa Parks is still one of the most important figures in the American civil rights movement. This tribute to Mrs. Parks is a celebration of her courageous action and the events that followed.


Award-winning poet, writer, and activist Nikki Giovanni’s evocative text combines with Bryan Collier’s striking cut-paper images to retell the story of this historic event from a wholly unique and original perspective.

Winner of the 2006 Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Paired very effectively with Giovanni's passionate, direct words, Collier's large watercolor-and-collage illustrations depict Parks as an inspiring force that radiates golden light." — Booklist, Starred Review


"Purposeful in its telling, this is a handsome and thought-provoking introduction to these watershed acts of civil disobedience." — School Library Journal


"Giovanni and Collier offer a moving interpretation of Rosa Park's momentous refusal to give up her bus seat.  The author brings her heroine very much to life...a fresh take on a remarkable historic event." — Publishers Weekly


"An essential volume for classrooms and libraries." — Kirkus Reviews

From The Critics
Luminous watercolor and collage pictures by an award-winning artist and and seamless storytelling by an equally acclaimed poet and activist shed light on the civil rights era. Their book focuses on the engrossing personal account of Rosa Parks, the seamstress who, in 1955, refused to give up her seat to a white passenger on a crowded city bus in Montgomery, AL. Meshing Parks's individual experience with the historic events that followed (the boycott and subsequent Supreme Court ruling against bus segregation), Giovanni and Collier affirm the effect one person's quiet act of courage can have on the world: "She had not sought this moment, but she was ready for it." (ages 6 to 8)
Child magazine's Best Children's Book Awards 2005
Publishers Weekly
Giovanni (The Sun Is So Quiet) and Collier (Uptown) offer a moving interpretation of Rosa Parks's momentous refusal to give up her bus seat. The author brings her heroine very much to life as she convincingly imagines Parks's thoughts and words while she rode the bus on December 1, 1955 ("She was not frightened. She was not going to give in to that which was wrong"), pointing out that Mrs. Parks was in the neutral section of the bus and (as some fellow riders observe) "She had a right to be there." The author and poet lyrically rephrases what the heroine herself has frequently said, "She had not sought this moment, but she was ready for it." After Mrs. Parks's arrest, the narrative's focus shifts to the 25 members of the Women's Political Council, who met secretly to stage the bus boycott. Inventively juxtaposing textures, patterns, geometric shapes and angles, Collier's watercolor and collage art presents a fitting graphic accompaniment to the poetic text. After viewing an image of Martin Luther King, Jr., encouraging a crowd to walk rather than ride the buses, readers open a dramatic double-page foldout of the Montgomery masses walking for nearly a year before the Supreme Court finally ruled that segregation on buses was illegal. A fresh take on a remarkable historic event and on Mrs. Parks's extraordinary integrity and resolve. Ages 5-up. (Sept.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
What would happen if you were made to give up your seat on a bus simply because of the color of your skin? That is what happened to Rosa Parks, a black woman in the southern town of Montgomery, Alabama, on December 1, 1955. When she refused to give up a seat that was supposed to be neutral—for blacks or whites—the bus driver called the police. The police arrested Mrs. Parks and took her to jail. When Jo Ann Robinson, a member of the Women's Political Council, heard of the arrest, she formed a committee that put up posters all over the town, urging black people to walk instead of riding the bus. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke to them as part of a large group that had joined together in the fight for equality. This was a country that was founded by a diverse group of people, and every citizen deserved equal treatment and Dr. King urged all blacks to stay off the buses. People from all over the country sent them shoes, coats, and money so they could continue to walk for almost a year—until the United States Supreme Court ruled on November 13, 1956, that segregation in any form was illegal. This would be a good book for an elementary social-studies class. The author explains the situation in simple terms for young children. The illustrator has emphasized the strength of Rosa Parks in his use of dark and light images. 2005, Henry Holt and Company, Ages 7 to 10.
—Debbie West
Children's Literature - April Steele
Rosa Parks, a seamstress living in Montgomery Alabama in the 1950s, begins a courageous journey by just saying, "No"—a word, of course, that sparks the Civil Rights Movement. Rosa Parks's work as a seamstress gets especially busy during the holidays. On the first of December, because Rosa is ahead of schedule, she leaves work early. Once she pays her bus fare, she proceeds to the back of the bus, or the colored section, as the law requires. However, because she finds no space in the colored section, she sits in the neutral section where both whites and blacks may sit. Several stops later, the bus driver asks Rosa and the other black riders sitting around her to give up their seats for white people. All of the other riders give up their seats; Rosa refuses, which results in her arrest and a city-wide protest of the bus system in support of Rosa's courage. The people of Montgomery Alabama decide to walk everywhere for a year. On November 13, 1956, the Supreme Court changes the laws to agree with the ruling already in place in schools: that segregation is wrong, on buses, in schools, and everywhere else, thanks to Rosa's brave act. Nikki Giovanni tells the story of a daring refusal that sparks a revolution and of a woman whose quiet determination changes American history. Bryan Collier adds to the effect by using watercolors that bring the world of Rosa Parks to life and displays the feel of the heat of the yellow sun in every page. Reviewer: April Steele
School Library Journal
Gr 3-5-Rosa Parks's personal story moves quickly into a summary of the Civil Rights movement in this striking picture book. Parks is introduced in idealized terms. She cares for her ill mother and is married to "one of the best barbers in the county." Sewing in an alterations department, "Rosa Parks was the best seamstress. Her needle and thread flew through her hands like the gold spinning from Rumpelstiltskin's loom." Soon the story moves to her famous refusal to give up her seat on the bus, but readers lose sight of her as she waits to be arrested. Giovanni turns to explaining the response of the Women's Political Caucus, which led to the bus boycott in Montgomery. A few events of the movement are interjected-the Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education, the aftermath and reactions to the murder of Emmett Till, the role of Martin Luther King, Jr., as spokesperson. Collier's watercolor and collage scenes are deeply hued and luminous, incorporating abstract and surreal elements along with the realistic figures. Set on colored pages, these illustrations include an effective double foldout page with the crowd of successful walkers facing a courthouse representing the 1956 Supreme Court verdict against segregation on the buses. Many readers will wonder how it all went for Parks after her arrest, and there are no added notes. Purposeful in its telling, this is a handsome and thought-provoking introduction to these watershed acts of civil disobedience.-Margaret Bush, Simmons College, Boston Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Rosa Parks sat. "She had not sought this moment, but she was ready for it." When she refused to move out of the neutral section of her bus to make way for white passengers, she sparked the Montgomery bus boycott. She was tired of putting white people first. Giovanni's lyrical text and Collier's watercolor-and-collage illustrations combine for a powerful portrayal of a pivotal moment in the civil-rights movement. The art complements and extends the text, with visual references to Emmett Till, the Edmund Pettus Bridge and Martin Luther King, Jr. The yellowish hue of the illustrations represents the Alabama heat, the light emanating from Rosa Parks's face a shining beacon to all who would stand up for what's right. A dramatic foldout mural will make this important work even more memorable. An essential volume for classrooms and libraries. (Picture book. 5+)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312376024
  • Publisher: Square Fish
  • Publication date: 12/26/2007
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 40
  • Sales rank: 179,112
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Lexile: 900L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 8.54 (w) x 10.95 (h) x 0.09 (d)

Meet the Author

Nikki Giovanni

Nikki Giovanni has written many books of poetry for children and adults. She is the author of Lincoln and Douglass, The Genie in the Jar, and Ego-tripping and Other Poems for Young People. Rosa is a Caldecott Honor book. Giovanni calls herself, "a Black American, a daughter, a mother, a professor of English."  She was born in Knoxville, Tennessee, and grew up in Lincoln Heights, an all-black suburb of Cincinnati, Ohio. She studied at Fisk University, the University of Pennsylvania, and Columbia University.


She published her first book of poetry, Black Feeling Black Talk, in 1968, and since then has become one of America’s most widely read poets. Oprah Winfrey named her as one of her twenty-five “Living Legends.” Her autobiography Gemini was a finalist for the National Book Award, and several of her books have received NAACP Image Awards. She has received some twenty-five honorary degrees, been named Woman of the Year by Mademoiselle Magazine, The Ladies Home Journal and Ebony, was the first recipient of the Rosa L. Parks Woman of Courage Award, and has been awarded the Langston Hughes Medal for poetry.


Nikki Giovanni lives in Christiansburg, Virginia, where she is a professor of English at Virginia Polytechnic Institute.

Bryan Collier is the author and illustrator of Uptown, winner of the Coretta Scott King Award and the Ezra Jack Keats Book Award. He is also the illustrator of Martin's Big Words, which was a Caldecott Honor Book. The Chicago Sun-Times has called Collier’s art “breathtakingly beautiful.” Mr. Collier lives with his family in Upstate New York.

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Reading Group Guide

Discussion Questions

• In his illustrator’s note, Bryan Collier says that he painted with a yellow hue in ROSA, to reflect

the heat of Montgomery, AL and the “uneasy quiet before the storm” (page 2). Do you notice this

throughout the book? Where do you see it, or feel it, the most? Are there other symbols in the

art? What do you think they mean?

• On the end papers of the book, a bus rider is reading a newspaper article on Emmet Till. On

page 4 Raymond Parks is reading a paper with an article that mentions King – perhaps this is Dr.

Martin Luther King. Where else do you see reference to the men and women who were part of the

struggle for Civil Rights in this country? How do these people relate to each other?

• In discussion of this book the author, Nikki Giovanni, has said that the bus driver, James Blake,

was a man of time, while Rosa Parks was a woman outside of her time. What does this mean?

• Rosa Parks did not plan to stage a protest on the bus that day. “She had not sought this

moment, but she was ready for it.” (page 18) How do you think that Rosa Parks became ready for

that moment?

• The struggle for civil and human rights continues in this country and around the world today.

What examples can you think of? What are the issues involved? Are there any recent examples of

a person, like Rosa Parks, whose “no becomes a YES for change”? (page 34)

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 6 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Posted February 15, 2009

    Beautifully Illustrated - Great for all ages

    Rosa by Nikki Giovanni is a beautifully illustrated story about Rosa Parks. The story is written in such a way that it would be of value to all grade levels. It begins by telling us how she came to be on the bus that faithful December day. The story explains how tired she was of ¿coloreds¿ needing to be separated and because of this weariness she wouldn¿t give up her seat. The community comes together in support of Rosa¿s decision. It shows students how powerful one person can be in changing something they believe is wrong.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted May 15, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Rosa is great!!!

    This book was made by Nikki Giovanni, Rosa is about a woman that's trying to help her mom get better from the flu. Her husband Raymond Parks is a barber which is one of the best barber's in town.
    One day Rosa got off work tired she was going home on the bus and she sat down in the mid section. Then a white man got on the bus and couldn't sit down because there were no more seats so the bus driver told her to give up her seat to the man, but she said NO because she was tired. They arrested her but she didn't care she was pride of her self and started the boycott.
    Rosa is a good book to read about civil rights so go and find this book. This book inspired me and taught me something too and that was believing in yourself.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 20, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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