Ruth and the Green Book

Ruth and the Green Book

3.5 2
by Calvin A. Ramsey, Floyd Cooper

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Ruth was so excited to take a trip in her family's new car! In the early 1950s, few African Americans could afford to buy cars, so this would be an adventure. But she soon found out that black travelers weren't treated very well in some towns. Many hotels and gas stations refused service to black people. Daddy was upset about something called Jim Crow laws...

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Ruth was so excited to take a trip in her family's new car! In the early 1950s, few African Americans could afford to buy cars, so this would be an adventure. But she soon found out that black travelers weren't treated very well in some towns. Many hotels and gas stations refused service to black people. Daddy was upset about something called Jim Crow laws... Finally, a friendly attendant at a gas station showed Ruth's family The Green Book. It listed all of the places that would welcome black travelers. With this guidebook—and the kindness of strangers—Ruth could finally make a safe journey from Chicago to her grandma's house in Alabama. Ruth's story is fiction, but The Green Book and its role in helping a generation of African American travelers avoid some of the indignities of Jim Crow are historical fact.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
At the core of this expressively illustrated fusion of fact and fiction is The Negro Motorist Green Book, first published in 1936, which listed hotels, restaurants, and other businesses that would serve African-Americans during an era when many would not. Charged with emotion, playwright Ramsey's story opens on an upbeat note, with Ruth and her parents embarking on a cross-country trip in their new 1952 Buick, traveling from Chicago to Grandma's home in Alabama. The family's spirits plummet when they are turned away from a service station restroom and a hotel, and see "White Only" signs in restaurant windows ("It hurt my feelings to be so unwelcome," says Ruth). However, a copy of the Green Book they purchase soon puts them in contact with friendly, helpful people all along the way. A sense of resiliency courses through Cooper's (Back of the Bus) filmy illustrations--beatific portraits of the Esso worker who sells the family their Green Book and the owner of a "tourist home" where the family spends the night radiate strength, kindness, and hope for a better future. Ages 7–11. (Nov.)
Children's Literature - Heidi Hauser Green
Road trips are exciting! Going to new places, stopping along the way, enjoying the sights of the road ... from start to finish, road trips are full of adventure. At least, they ought to be. But in the early 1950s, for those African Americans who could afford cars, they were anything but. Rather, road trips could be an exercise in survival, and a mile-by-mile illustration of the practice of racial discrimination, punctuated by the travelers' prayers for reaching the next gas station or restaurant that would serve them. Ramsey shows these difficulties in the story of a girl named Ruth, traveling with her parents from their home in Chicago to visit her grandmother in Alabama. Journeying south, they encounter more hostile businesses with every passing mile. After a few days, they stop at a friend's house for the night. He tells them to look for an Esso station when they leave the next day. This tip proves to be more valuable than Ruth initially realizes, as Esso sells The Green Book, a reference manual of businesses throughout the United States that welcome African American travelers. Ruth takes on the role of Green Book navigator, and her family's journey feels safer and more joyful. Finally, they too can enjoy the adventure. Readers may be familiar with these issues, but this particular tale reveals them in a new light. This nonviolent story is an excellent resource for introducing the topic of racial segregation and discrimination in the elementary school classroom, or the home. Reviewer: Heidi Hauser Green
Kirkus Reviews

In the early 1950s, newly built interstate highways invited Americans to travel by automobile, but the open road wasn't so open for African-Americans, especially in the South. Ramsey drives this truth home in this story of the journey of a family traveling from Chicago to Alabama by car. "It was a BIG day at our house when Daddy drove up in our very own automobile--a 1952 Buick!...I was so excited to travel across the country!" Ruth's family encounters many of the obstacles that existed, from whites-only restrooms in gas stations to whites-only hotels: "It seemed like there were 'White Only' signs everywhere outside of our Chicago neighborhood." The Negro Motorist Green Book comes to the rescue, listing resources for black motorists in every state, and Ruth and her family make their way from safe haven to safe haven until they reach Alabama. Cooper masterfully captures the emotions of the characters, filling his pages with three-dimensional individuals. This story touches on a little-known moment in American history with elegance, compassion and humanity. (historical note) (Picture book. 7-12)

School Library Journal
Gr 1�4—Ruth's father just bought a beautiful new 1952 Buick, making it a big day for this African-American family. They are going from Chicago to Alabama to visit Grandma. Ruth is very excited to be traveling, but the family encounters "whites only" restrooms, hotels, and restaurants along the way. It's very discouraging and sometimes scary, but they learn that some friendly faces may be found at local Esso stations, which are among the few franchises open to black businessmen. At a station near the Georgia border, they are introduced to Victor H. Green's The Negro Motorist Green Book, an early AAA guidebook of sorts that listed establishments or homes that would serve African Americans—be it for general services, housing, or meals. Ruth eventually becomes the Green Book specialist in the family, helping to guide them to an auto-repair shop or an inn that would welcome them. But, the best part of the trip is finally arriving at Grandma's, as illustrated by the loving expressions on all faces. A one-page concluding summary discusses the importance of The Green Book, which was in use from 1936�1964, when the Civil Rights Act was finally signed, banning racial discrimination. The realistic illustrations are done in oil wash on board, a self-described "subtractive process." The picture is painted, then erased to "paint" the final product. Overall, there is a sepialike quality to the art, giving the impression of gazing at old color photos. This is an important addition to picture book collections, useful as a discussion-starter on Civil Rights or as a stand-alone story.—Roxanne Burg, Orange County Public Library, CA

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Product Details

Lerner Publishing Group
Publication date:
Carolrhoda Picture Bks
Edition description:
Library Edition
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
9.20(w) x 11.10(h) x 0.40(d)
810L (what's this?)
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

Meet the Author

Calvin Alexander Ramsey, Atlanta-based playwright, photographer, and folk art painter, grew up in Baltimore, Maryland, and Roxboro, North Carolina. In addition to having been a year-round resident of Martha's Vineyard, Calvin has a passion for travel and has lived in New York City; Santa Monica, California; Chapel Hill, North Carolina; and the U.S. Virgin Islands of St. Croix and St. John.

He is a former Advisory Board Member of the Robert Woodruff Library Special Collections at Emory University in Atlanta. He is also a recipient of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Drum Major for Justice Award.

His plays have been performed in New York City; Washington, D.C.; Atlanta; San Francisco; Valdez, Alaska; Omaha, Nebraska; Baltimore; and Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

His plays include Bricktop, The Musical; The Green Book; Damaged Virtues; Canada Lee; Sherman Town, Baseball, Apple Pie and The Klan; Enlightenment; Sister Soldiers; Kentucky Avenue; Somewhere In My Lifetime; Johnny Mercer: A Man and His Music, a musical tribute to the author of Moon River and others; and The Age of Possibilities. He children's books are The Last Mule of Gee's Bend and Ruth and The Green Book.

He is the father of three children, all of whom are writers.

Floyd Cooper received a Coretta Scott King Award for his illustrations in Honor for his illustrations for The Blacker the Berry and won CSK honors for Brown Honey In Broomwheat Tea and I Have Heard Of A Land. Born and raised in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Mr. Cooper received a degree in fine arts from the University of Oklahoma. In 1984 he came to New York City to pursue a career as an illustrator of books and now lives in Easton, Pennsylvania, with his wife and two sons.

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Ruth and the Green Book 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This historical fiction book is highly recommended. The "Green Book" was true to life book that was written to help guide African-Americans travelers safely in areas (down South) that were segregated in the USA. The text is written at an easy-level (k-2nd grade, but the concepts are higher- segregation, Jim Crow Laws, discrimination, and comparing/ contrasting plot/ theme/ mood/ change of character/ perspective of a child telling the story are at above level) that supports the pictures (or vice versa) in depicting the story of a young girl and her family that travel from Chicago to Alabama. This story helps build background information for students who need help connecting with what life was really like in the year 1952 for African-Americans. My students will be discussing this book and preparing literary essays based on the thesis that this book demonstrates how African-Americans supported each other in a time when traveling South was dangerous. The book could be read for any age but may be best suited for elementary. Teachers of older student can use this book to open discussion or prior to reading a book such as the Watson's Go To Birmingham- a 6th grade novel.
Brunetta More than 1 year ago
Highly recommended!!! A must read for all ages. Historically correct and enlightning. A positive read especially for children.