Sarah and her mother ride the bus every day.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's WeeklyMiller (Richard Wright and the Library Card) offers a streamlined, fictional account of the Montgomery, Ala., bus strike--inspired by Rosa Parks's pivotal act of courage. Each morning, young Sara and her mother sit at the back of the bus, on their respective ways to school and work, while the whites sit in front. The girl's ride is longer than her mother's, and one morning after her mother exits, Sara makes her way to the front of the bus ("I just wanted to see what was so special"). Sara's ordeal is understandably less harrowing than Parks's was, given her age: after she refuses to either move to the back or get off the bus, a police officer takes her to the station, where he calls her mother rather than arrest her. The following day, Sara becomes an instant celebrity when her photo appears on the front page of the newspaper, and a crowd falls in step behind mother and daughter as they boycott the bus. The author somewhat oversimplifies the results of the youngster's actions ("The bus company got mad. The mayor got mad. People got so mad they finally changed the law"), but the language is easily accessible to picture-book readers. Ward's (Kente Colors) closely focused, acrylic paintings (most of which show similar scenes of the bus interior) are as straightforward and unadorned as Miller's text. Perhaps most inspiring to readers will be Parks's brief introduction, in which she frankly states that she had no intention of making history on that day in 1955: "I chose not to move because I was tired of laws that did not treat me like a first-class citizen in my own country." Ages 4-up. (July)
Children's Literature - Carolyn Mott FordRosa Parks, whose courageous action in 1955 when she refused to relinquish her seat on the bus to a white person, provided the inspiration for this story. Sara, a young girl living in the South prior to desegregation, rode the bus to school and always had to sit in the back. One morning, Sara decided to see what was so special about the front of the bus. When she sat down, the bus driver immediately told her to get up and go to her seat in the back. When Sara refused to move, the bus driver insisted she get off the bus. Sara refused to budge and finally a policeman was called and carried her off the bus. Sara's picture and story appeared in the newspaper. Some people considered her a troublemaker, while others believed she was a heroine. Sara's actions led to a boycott of the bus service until, finally, the law was changed. This is such recent history, one wonders why it was necessary to fictionalize this story, rather than focus on the actions of real people.
Children's Literature - Susie WildeSara and her mother ride the bus daily. One day, after her mother gets off to "work in the kitchens of white people" Sara wonders what is so special about the front of the bus. She wanders up the aisle. Surrounded by a sea of white anger, Sara is lonely and afraid, but her sense of injustice prevails. Finally police carry her off the bus. Newsmen surround her before her mother comes to take her from the confusion. Her mother proudly tells Sara, "You're as good as any white child in this whole, wide world." She explains that Sara must sit in the back of the bus because of the law, "but that doesn't mean it's a good law." Then Sara and her mother walk proudly to work until the law changes, and they again mount the bus steps. This time, Sara notices that though her mama still wears the same worn clothes and shoes, she looks different because of the "pride and happiness in her eyes." A tribute to the Civil Rights era and the bravery of Rosa Parks.
School Library JournalK-Gr 3-A well-intentioned, fictional attempt to present some information about the issues at play during the 1955-56 bus boycott in Montgomery, AL, and to show the impact that can be made by one person taking a stand for what is right. Sara, an African-American girl, rides the bus each day with her mother. One morning, after her mother has gotten off, the child decides to see what is so special about the front of the bus. When she sits in one of the front seats and refuses to move, the driver calls a policeman, who carries her to the police station, where her mother is called. The next morning the two of them walk instead of taking the bus. Along the way they discover that Sara's picture is in the paper and that black and white people alike hail her as a hero. While this story follows the outline of the incidents that made Rosa Parks justifiably famous, it all happens too easily here. There is no sense of the bravery of Sara's action. When the policeman first talks to Sara, he is smiling. At the station, the sergeant pats her on the back. She is instantly a hero. It appears that a few days of boycotting is all it took to get the laws changed. The story, in fact, trivializes the entire incident rather than bringing it to life. Even the beautiful paintings portray little more than mild annoyance on the part of some of the onlookers. Rosa Parks's I Am Rosa Parks (Dial, 1997), Eloise Greenfield's Rosa Parks (HarperCollins, 1995), and David A. Adler's A Picture Book of Rosa Parks (Holiday, 1993) are all better choices.-Linda Greengrass, Bank Street College Library, New York City
Kirkus ReviewsMiller (Richard Wright and the Library Card, 1997, etc.) reimagines the story of Rosa Parks's historic refusal to give up her bus seat as it might have happened to Sara, a young girl with an intuitive grasp of right and wrong. Parks has written the introduction to this story of Sara and her mother, who ride the bus every morning: Sara to school and her mother, whose stop is before Sara's, to her job cleaning homes. One morning, after her mother had left, Sara becomes curious about what is in the front of the bus, so she wanders forward and sits opposite the driver. He tells her to move back where she belongs. Sara demurs; her new seat will do. The driver slams on the breaks, opens the doors, and orders her off. Sara sits tight, only aware that there is a basic unfairness at work; it's her ingenuous way of making a stand. She is carried off the bus by the police and as she is being booked, the media gets in on the event. Next day, Sara's noble act is splashed across the headlines, which prompts a rider boycott and an overturning of the law. What makes this book so effective are two things: First, Miller keeps the story intimate, without portentous forebodings of history in the making; second, Ward's terrific realistic illustrations make the story utterly accessible. The approach is low-key, but readers will feel the winds of history rustle in these pages. (Picture book. 5-10)
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