From the Publisher
Thursday, March 23, 2000
The best in the eyes of young readers by: Bob Minzesheimer
Norman Rockwell painted her when she was 6, surrounded by four federal marshals, marching to a New Orleans elementary school in the cause of integration.
Nearly 40 years later, Ruby Bridges turned her memories of that experience into a book for children. Today, Through My Eyes (Scholastic, $16.95) wins an award as 1999's best non-fiction children's book that "advances humanitarian ideals and serves as an inspiration to young readers." It's recommended for readers ages 7 to 12.
It's one of three awards from the Bank Street College of Education in New York. Each year, Bank Street organizes a children's book committee - half adults, half kids. They review 4,000 books and recommend 600 for various age groups.
'The work is shared by 28 librarians, teachers, authors and parents and 28 "young reviewers" (ages 7 to 15) from across the country who have in common a passion for books. Today, the committee issues the new edition of The Best Children's Books of the Year, which costs $8, and awards two others prizes:
- For a book "in which young people deal in a positive and realistic way with difficulties" and "grow emotionally and moraly"- Gina Willner- Pardo for Figuring Out Frances (Houghton Mifflin, $14). It's about a 10-year-old girl who's trying to figure out boys, her mother and a grand- mother who has Alzheimer's. For readers 8 to 12.
- For the best poetry book - to Sonya Sones for Stop Pretending: What Happened When My Big Sister Went Crazy (HarperCollins, $14.95). It's about dealing with an older sister's mental breakdown. For readers 12 to 14.
For more information, call 212-8754540 or see www.bankstreet.edu/bookcom.
Children's Literature - Children's Literature
Bridges tells her own story in remembering 1960, the year when, at the age of six, she walked through a raging crowd of segregationists to integrate a New Orleans school. Her writing is succinct and with her childhood perspective preserved, Bridges recounts the isolation that came from being the only black child in class, the caring of her teacher, her confusion at the angry crowds, the national publicity, portrayals by John Steinbeck and Norman Rockwell, and the courageous people who came forward to support her and change the course of history. Though Bridge's story takes center stage, the book is filled with powerful monochromatic photographs and the anecdotes of others who were part of her experience. 1999, Scholastic, Ages 9 up, $16.95. Reviewer: Susie Wilde
Gr 4-7-Profusely illustrated with sepia photos-including many gritty journalistic reproductions-this memoir brings some of the raw emotions of a tumultuous period into sharp focus. In her recounting of the events of 1960-61, the year she became the first African-American child to integrate the William Frantz Elementary School in New Orleans, Bridges is true to her childhood memories. She is clear about what she remembers and what she later learned. Her account is accompanied by excerpts from newspaper articles, comments by her teacher, and a time line that fill in the details and place her story within the context of the Civil Rights Movement. The narrative draws a distinct contrast between the innocence of this six-year-old child who thought that "Two, four, six, eight, we don't want to integrate" was a jump-rope chant and the jeers of the angry crowd outside her school carrying a black doll in a coffin. A powerful personal narrative that every collection will want to own.-Daryl Grabarek, School Library Journal Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
This eye-opening introduction to the civil rights movement, written on a child's level, is suitable for read-aloud and certain to provoke thoughtful discussion.