Walking to the Bus-Rider Blues

Walking to the Bus-Rider Blues

3.4 47
by Harriette Gillem Robinet, Raul Colon
     
 

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"Oh, I'm singing the bus-rider blues,
the Alabamy bus-rider blues.
I got me a feeling, deep down inside,
It ain't never ever gonna be the same."

During the Alabama bus boycott, six months after Rosa Parks made her famous bus protest, Alfa Merryfield and his family struggle to pay the rent. But someone keeps stealing their rent money —

Overview

"Oh, I'm singing the bus-rider blues,
the Alabamy bus-rider blues.
I got me a feeling, deep down inside,
It ain't never ever gonna be the same."

During the Alabama bus boycott, six months after Rosa Parks made her famous bus protest, Alfa Merryfield and his family struggle to pay the rent. But someone keeps stealing their rent money — and now someone is accusing them of stealing!
With only a few days left before rent is due, Alfa and his sister, Zinnia, know they don't have much time. To solve this mystery, they must "walk the walk and talk the talk of nonviolence" that Martin Luther King, Jr. and other leaders preach — and what they discover may be more than they dreamed...

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In this quasi-mystery set during the 1956 Montgomery bus boycott, 12-year-old Alfa relies on the teachings of Martin Luther King Jr. to get through some strange times. PW said this novel "may well inspire readers to discover more about this important chapter in civil rights history." Ages 8-12. (Jan.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Robinet (Forty Acres and Maybe a Mule) sets this quasi-mystery and historical novel in June 1956 during the Montgomery bus boycott, and 12-year-old Alfa's narration brings its ramifications home and lends the events a sense of immediacy. Alfa lives with his great-grandmother Mama Mayfield, well respected in the town even among many white people, and sister Zinnia in a ramshackle tar-paper house. He composes the "bus-rider blues" as he attempts to bolster his courage against three white bullies who steal his pay from the Greendale grocery where he works. He manages to turn the tables on the trio by applying the philosophy of the newly arrived Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., whom he hears at rallies in his church. When a wealthy white woman accuses Alfa's family of stealing from her while cleaning her home, he puts King's teachings to the test. Robinet conveys the tension in Montgomery, not only through the impact of the bus boycott and King's preaching of non-violence on day-to-day interactions among townspeople but through the reverberations of African-American Emmett Till's racially motivated murder the previous summer. A few important threads remain only partially explored, such as the loan shark who holds a connection to both the accusing white family and Alfa and Zinnia's "phantom mother," and some inconsistencies come through in Mr. Greendale's and Zinnia's characters. The novel is at its strongest when filling in historical details of the time, such as the volunteer taxi service for bus boycotters, and may well inspire readers to discover more about this important chapter in civil rights history. Ages 8-12. (May) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|
Children's Literature - Children's Literature
This novel recounts the turbulent events of the late 1950s that sparked the American civil rights movement. In Montgomery, Alabama, things haven't been the same since Rosa Parks, a black woman, refused to give up her seat on the bus to a white person. The black community, and some white folks, have been boycotting bus rides ever since. This places a hardship on Alfa, who at twelve years of age helps to support his family by working at a grocery store. But Alfa understands that the community must stand together if they are to overthrow the System, a system that casually treats African-Americans as something less than human. Alfa has other problems, too. His main worry is coming up with the rent money each month, but he is also concerned about Big Mama, his great grandmother and guardian. Even though she is very old and sometimes loses her way, Big Mama refuses to ride the bus. And when money is missing from a wealthy white man's house that Alfa and his family cleaned, suspicion falls on Alfa and his family. In the midst of this turmoil, a young clergyman named Martin Luther King gives rousing speeches that bolster the movement's resolve. And at the end of this finely layered novel, the ray of hope that means equality for all mankind shines a little brighter. 2000, Atheneum, Ages 8 to 12, $16.00. Reviewer: Christopher Moning—Children's Literature
VOYA - Voya Reviews
In Montgomery, Alabama, during the summer of 1956, twelve-year-old Alfa Merryfield works at the local grocery to help his family earn enough money to pay the rent on their two-room, tar-paper home. Although they keep their money hidden, Alfa, his great-grandmother, and his fifteen-year-old sister, Zinnia, have found part of their savings missing more than once. Also on their minds is the bus boycott that has continued for nearly six months. Just like hundreds of other African Americans in that day, they walk wherever they have to go, rather than ride the bus. Short of funds, the family takes on the extra job of cleaning the home of a wealthy doctor. Before the day is over, they are accused of stealing a very large amount of money from the house. Together the siblings are determined to solve the mystery of the doctor's missing money as well as their own. This award-winning author has woven a significant Civil Rights event into a powerful and memorable story line. Although her characters are faced with daily incidents of racism, their high self-respect and dignity carry them through. Robinet's humble male narrator will capture the reader's heart, as he "walks the walk and talks the talk of nonviolence" that is preached by a young Martin Luther King Jr. Biblio. VOYA CODES: 5Q 4P M (Hard to imagine it being any better written; Broad general YA appeal; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8). 2000, Simon & Schuster, Ages 12 to 14, 160p, $16. Reviewer: Mary Ann Capan
School Library Journal
Robinet (Forty Acres and Maybe a Mule) sets this quasi-mystery and historical novel in June 1956 during the Montgomery bus boycott, and 12-year-old Alfa's narration brings its ramifications home and lends the events a sense of immediacy. Alfa lives with his great-grandmother Mama Mayfield, well respected in the town even among many white people, and sister Zinnia in a ramshackle tar-paper house. He composes the "bus-rider blues" as he attempts to bolster his courage against three white bullies who steal his pay from the Greendale grocery where he works. He manages to turn the tables on the trio by applying the philosophy of the newly arrived Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., whom he hears at rallies in his church. When a wealthy white woman accuses Alfa's family of stealing from her while cleaning her home, he puts King's teachings to the test. Robinet conveys the tension in Montgomery, not only through the impact of the bus boycott and King's preaching of non-violence on day-to-day interactions among townspeople but through the reverberations of African-American Emmett Till's racially motivated murder the previous summer. A few important threads remain only partially explored, such as the loan shark who holds a connection to both the accusing white family and Alfa and Zinnia's "phantom mother," and some inconsistencies come through in Mr. Greendale's and Zinnia's characters. The novel is at its strongest when filling in historical details of the time, such as the volunteer taxi service for bus boycotters, and may well inspire readers to discover more about this important chapter in civil rights history. Ages 8-12. (May) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|
Kirkus Reviews
Social issues, civil-rights history, adventure, and mystery are all skillfully combined in this gripping story of 12-year-old Alfa Merryfield, his sister Zinnia, and their great-grandmother Lydia. Setting her story in Montgomery, Alabama, during the summer of 1956, when the bus boycott precipitated by Rosa Parks is already six months old and racial tensions are high, Robinet (Forty Acres and Maybe a Mule, 1998, etc.) has created richly delineated characters and conveyed a strong sense of time and place from the perspective of two African-American children who are deeply involved in it all. In addition to the larger social issues, Alfa and Zinnia face other, more personal and immediate problems. Lydia's mind has started to wander, and the rent money that the three have struggled to gather for their tar-paper shack each month has been mysteriously disappearing from its hiding place. Even worse, the three are accused of stealing money from the big yellow house they are hired to clean. Inspired by Martin Luther King Jr.'s call for nonviolent resistance, and his admonishment that "justice delayed is justice denied," Alfa and Zinnia work tirelessly and ingeniously to solve both mysteries. Elements that add even more depth and suspense to the story include questions concerning the children's "phantom mother," who left them with Mama Merryfield when they were three-and-a-half years and six months old, and who has never been seen or heard from since; the secret signals and signs of solidarity that are exchanged behind the backs of white people; and the constant tension and brutality of an unequal and racist world—tensions and brutality that are exacerbatedasthe old order begins to crumble. Robinet has succeeded admirably in conveying all of this and more in a way that young readers will be able to understand, all the while telling a story that will keep them turning the pages. (Fiction. 8-12)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780689838866
Publisher:
Aladdin
Publication date:
01/01/2002
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
160
Sales rank:
608,987
Product dimensions:
5.12(w) x 7.62(h) x 0.50(d)
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

Meet the Author

Raúl Colón has illustrated several highly acclaimed picture books, including Draw!; the New York Times bestselling Angela and the Baby Jesus by Frank McCourt; Susanna Reich’s José! Born to Dance; and Jill Biden’s Don’t Forget, God Bless Our Troops. Mr. Colón lived in Puerto Rico as a young boy and now resides in New City, New York, with his family.

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Walking to the Bus-Rider Blues 3.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 47 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Walking to The Bus Rider Blues change my life in a way that a book that has never change my life like that. This book changel my life by letting me know how it was hard for black people to be treated this way.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Do you like a half good mystery book? You¿ll get the half good mystery that you want in Walking to the Bus Rider Blues. This book is a Historical Fiction, written by Harriette Gillem Robinet. If you really like learning about the Civil Rights Movement you would diffidently give this book a better star rating then I will. The story unfolds in Montgomery, Alabama, where the dirt-poor Merryfield family runs into major financial trouble. Their rent money for their house keeps disappearing and when they are cleaning another person¿s house for money they are accused for stealing the families $2000. The main characters are Alfa, Zinnia, and Big Mama Merryfield. I could say this book is related to many different stories in many different ways. One would the book would be Freedom Train because they are both about black people¿s struggle for freedom and Civil Rights. The theme of this book is about how the struggle and the perseverance of black people on their way to equal rights, for all minorities, and what they were willing to do to get there. The bus boycott for example, they walked for more than a year to get their way to win equal rights with the whites and for all minorities. You do not hear about any others because they were not as major as African American rights. The weakest point of the story is how the way she addresses this story. It is just like she took it from another book because I¿ve seen it all too much in other books. The strong point was how she kept you guessing who stole the $2000. Half the time you think it¿s the window washer when it¿s really some one else. I would not encourage my friends to read this book. Most of my friends aren¿t too interested in Civil Rights. Therefore this book deserves 1 star. No question about it. I am sorry to all those who really like this book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Are you interested in learning more about the segregation of African-Americans? If you are, you should read Walking to the Bus-Rider Blues, by Harriette Gillem Robit. This book is about a 12 year old African-American boy named Alfa, his family, and how their life was like in the summer of 1956. This story takes place in Montgomery, Alabama. It is a mystery book and it teaching about history because Alfa and his family were blamed for stealing $2,000 from a white man, and the families rent money is disappearing. I think that you will enjoy this book, especially if you like mysteries and history.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Would you like to know more about life for the African Americans during the 1950s and 1960s? Walking to the Bus-Rider Blues is a historical fiction by Harriette Gillem Robinet. You would like this book if you were interested in the Civil Rights Movement, the bus boycotts, or if you enjoy mysteries! I know I liked this book, I read the whole book in one night! This book is about two mysteries, and how African Americans were treated. The main characters are Alfa Merryfield, Zinnia Merryfield, and Mamma Merryfield or Big Mamma. The setting takes place during the 1950s (1956), and takes place in Alabama. The theme of this book is how African Americans did nonviolent acts to gain free equal rights. I think Walking to the Bus-Rider Blues is like the book the Biography of Rosa Parks. I think this because both books are about the bus boycotts. The weak points of the book, or what I didn¿t like about it was that I didn¿t like how the author didn¿t give more information about the boycotts than I would¿ve liked. But, the strong points of the book, or what I did like about it was that I liked when the author made it seem like different characters were the ¿bad guys,¿ or the ones who stole the money. I would definitely encourage other people to read this book. This is because this book shows how hard it was for African Americans and it gives information on something that really happened in American history. We should all know about are history so we don¿t accidentally repeat it!
Guest More than 1 year ago
The book Walking to the Bus rider blues is a story about a Alabama family called the Merryfields trying to pay back thier rent. All of the blacks are boycotting the buses for the arrest Rosa Parks. Alfa the only male in the house works at Mr. Greendale's Grocery store and Big Mama (their Guardian) works by cleaning the white folks houses. However,while gathering money there it gets stolen, they get acused of stealing 2 thousand dollars, and of coarse, constant harrasment of the white folks. This a really good story of the merryfields struggle for survival and should be many readers.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I think this book is very interesting. It makes me want to keep reading. I think this book this book is interesting because I never read a book talking about blacks & whites. I've seen the movie but never read the book. The best part about this novel is Chapter three because alfa stands up to those three white boys without fighting them I would remcommend this novel to someone else because it takes alot for me to like a book, the book has to have lots of detail and, interesting, and the title has to be catchy, I like this book, so i think someone eles would like it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Growing up in segragated towns and schools a young boy fights for freedom and equal rights.This book is wanting, it will keep you on the edge. The worst part of the book is when the white kids were making fun of the liitte black boy.b I would recomend this book because its a fun book and u would learn alot.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I think its very on point. Personally i think that is messed up how the blacks had to give their seat up for the white people. ALfa wanted to get revenged on these white boys that was always picking and beating on him, So alfa decided to go and get revenge on them. Also this book is about the african american's right's. This is kind of book that will keep wanting to hear more, and waiting for more action to hear. There were few people that are famous in history today.
Guest More than 1 year ago
My novel is about walking to the bus rider blues,It is about Two kids that are in the time of the segregation and they're fighting to get treated like equal people. Alfa is trying to mange his job and not lose it for fighting,his sister who is trying to help him mange his money from work. The best part in this story to me is when five young boys wanted to fight Alfa and then they diden't Because they found out what his name was and they where guessing how he had got there names. I would recommend this book to some people and why because it is a good book an segregation and I think they would like the point of view of where there coming from.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I thought this book was great because it has mystery problems that everyone will enjoy reading about.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Alfa Merifield is a average colered boy during the 60's and his life and expectations live up to it. I think that this is one of the most interesting mysters I've read. tThe best part of this novel was when Alfa found the money clip that had the stolen monry in it. I give this book 4 out of 5 stars. I would recamend this book to young readers who like a good mystery that is relistic but arn't looking for a thriller.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is good for tennagers 13-15. Iliked this book because I can relate to all of the problems that they had in the book. The worst part of this book is when Alfa gets beat up. The characteristics it has of historical fiction it has is that in has the bus-ride boycotts and the death of Emmitt Till. I woud reccomend this book to other people because, it's a good wat to find how black people in the 50's were treated
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was all right to me, but it wasn¿t exceptionally good. At first I did not entirely care for the novel. The cover didn¿t appeal to me, and the review on the back didn¿t truly interest me. It was not the type of book I generally liked to read. When I got further into the reading it became interesting and somewhat suspenseful. The worst part of the book was the beginning because it didn¿t catch my interest right away. This book is based on all of the events that happened back then in the days of racism and hate. The events probably happened in real life, but not precisely. I would consider recommending this novel to other people, its quite enriching and you can learn a lot form it. Although it wasn¿t my favorite, I¿m sure it could be someone else¿s.
Guest More than 1 year ago
It's a hot, humid day in Montgomery, Alabama, in 1956. It is June, and the bus boycotts that kicked off the Civil Rights movement is well underway. Through a bus' steamy, moist window, you can see a white man's face plastered with anger, and at the same time, worry. He's a bus driver, and his job is in jeopardy because African-Americans have taken a long overdue stand for their rights as an American citizen, and more important, a human being. Thus, we enter the consciousness of a twelve year old African-American boy, trying to make ends meet, all the while still support the Civil Rights movement. 'Walking to the Bus Rider Blues,' by Harriet Robinet, is, at first glance, an easily accessible novel for one whom wants to learn about the beginnings of the Civil Rights movement and be entertained by a story simultaneously. However, at times the story isn't all that entertaining, and Robinet seems to be confused about whether this books a month in the life of a family of African-Americans trying to make ends meet, or a mystery novel sure to throw some casual readers off. This is an inconvenience for a casual reader, who may want an easy read but ends up having to remember the evidence and suspects presented in the novel. The readers who want a mystery will end up getting bored of periods in the book where there is no mystery. Because of the mix of genres, it may alienate some of the readers. We meet Alfa, a twelve year old kid, Zinnia, Alfa's older sister, and Big Mama Merryfield, the great-grandmother of both Alfa and Zinnia, in the midst of trying to pay their monthly bill for their mud shack of a house. Their desire to keep on, keepin' on nets them in a middle of a crime they didn't commit. So Alfa, with help from his sister Zinnia, must solve a complex mystery to clear their name. With the faults this book has, it definitely paints a clear picture of the times. The gritty life of a poor family living in a mud shack is well represented in the novel. Choosing Montgomery, Alabama was an excellent choice in settings. And, of course, the bigotry of the times is well represented, from the police beat downs, to verbal lashings from conceited, spoiled housewives. In conclusion, this book lives up to the genre historical-fiction, while unfortunately skewing the remaining genres the book contains. The history is seamlessly blended into the story, but the story only lasts a month (June-July 1956,) so though there's history there, there isn't a lot of it. However, if you can deal with the faults, it is an enjoyable afternoon read. However, if the faults pose a problem, keep on walking.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I think this novel is like a history because it is jam packed with infromation onb the civil rights and desegregation movements. The best thing is about this book is not only it is like a history book, but it is also like a mystery book because you wonder what is going to happend next. This book has historical fiction because the author is taking a family that could have been in the segregation movement. i would recommened this because the auther has the same amazing imformation.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Harriette Gillem Robinet wrote this novel to explain how segeregation was and to explain her story on what she went through growing up through those times. I liked this novel because you can see how colored people were treated differently than whites. I liked how Ms.Robinet also talked about Rosa Parks and what she did during that time and how she made a difference on the bus and now anybody can sit anywhere on the bus. I would recommend this novel to young readers to make them understand that everyone is the same and nobody should get treated by there color,race,or religion, etc.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Personally I found this book quite boring and uneventful and with a dissapointing ending. I think the book should have included a little more action or comedy and should have created a better antagonist to be defeated in the end. The worst part of the book is by far the end, because after the main character prevails through adversity to unmask the true villian no one cares. It winds up the police already knew who committed the crime and decided not to persecute the individual due to the fact that she was white. One more thing I didn't like about the book was the fact that the title of the book had a very miniscule role in the plot. That therefore concludes my views on the book 'Walking to the Bus-Rider Blues.
Guest More than 1 year ago
In my opinion this book is a very easy read and somewhat dry. I think there should have been a more complicated plot that had more suspense. Also I feel that the worst part was the ending because it left you with little information, forcing you to imply many things about the Merryfield's near future. Although the plot is rather simple this novel has some important themes that were present during the Civil Rights Movement, some of which include segregation, racism, and white supremacy. I personally would not recommend this novel because it lacked an interesting, exciting plot.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This novel is a story that ideally describes the hard ships of many colored families during the 1950's. This is a book that I will cherish and remember for many years to come. The best part of the novel is when Alfa, the main charecter, and his sister chase awy two thugs that were extorting money from their grandmother. Though the charecters in this book are fully fictional, the actual hardships they endure were real for colored people in the 1950's.I would recommend this book to any ireader. I would like to open their eyes to what the colored population of the south in the 1950s went through during Segregation.
Guest More than 1 year ago
HOW BLACKS WERE TREATED UNFAIRLY Walking to the bus rider blues was a very exciting book. It described the history and unfairness that black people were treated. Also how different races could not get along. In this story, Rosa Parks displayed courage when she didn't give up her seat on the bus where black people could not sit where they wanted to on the bus. I rated this book with 5 stars because I like the book. I would reccommend this book to alot of people because it was a very good and exciting book. I feel that the book could be like interesting and it involves different people that are important to black history.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Harriette Gillem Robinet writes a mysterious book about scandal, racism, and segregation. A poor black family fights to survive through love, and non-violence.They must get fifty dollars a month to pay their rent, but someone is stealing from them. Also, a very rich white family frames them for stealing 2,000 dollars. This book is filled with suspense and mystery I recommend it to all readers. So what are you waiting for?Go read it!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a great book. It's like a mystery book because if something was missing and a black lived in the house then people put them as their first suspect. It also tells people that blacks weren't given a chance to prove they were innocent. People were allowed to do that and the blacks couldn't do anything about it, this book proves that blacks can do anything that whites can do. My favorite part was when Aflred proved they were innocent of not steeling the money. My least favorite part was when they white people said that they stole the money. I would recommend this book to younger kids because if you are older you wouldn't like the book but younger kids would enjoy it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Although I enjoy African American history very much, I found this book rather dull. 'Walking to the Bus Rider Blues' is the story of Alfa Merryfield, his sister Zinnia, and his great-grandmother living in a segregated Alabama town. While cleaning the home of the wealthy Williams', the Merryfields are accused of stealing $2,000 from Mr. Williams' wallet. I thought that the book talked too much about the familie's trouble to keep up with their monthly rent payment, rather than the idea of segregation in the south. I would recommend this book to younger readers like a fourth or fifth grader, but not middle school or high school students. If you want to read about the hardships of an African American family during the fifties, I think this would be a good book for you.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Have you ever walked somewhere and thought, 'I wish I had a car.'? That's what twelve-year old Alfa Merryfield feels everyday. This historical fiction novel takes place in the middle of the 1956 Montgomery, Alabama bus boycott, so poor Alfa has to walk everywhere he goes. When he and his family have their rent money for their tar-paper house stolen, the Merryfields go to a rich white family's house to work for moeney. But get this, just when they're about to get their pay, they are accused of stealing from the white family!And when Alfa has just about figured out the real culprit, he is fired from his job at a grocery store because his boss thinks he's a criminal. I just sat there and pondered until I could recollect my thoughts and said, 'Okay...WHAT?!?' I would give this book four of five stars and recemend it to problem solvers. It leaves you hooked and really makes you think. So if you like mysteries, grab this book and start reading! You won't believe the ending!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is a average book.I think this is just another book, about a boy growing up in a racist community in alabama.This book could have been better written and could have been more interesting.It is mostly for young readers.