Rosa (Nikki Giovanni)


Hello, friends! Our book today is Rosa, written by Nikki Giovanni and illustrated by Bryan Collier, the story of Rosa Parks’s famous act of defiance and the fire it lit in the Civil Rights movement.

Rosa Parks is a seamstress, an activist, and a well-respected woman in her town of Montgomery, Alabama. One December afternoon, she is riding the bus home, seated in the section of the bus designated for use by either black or white people. Suddenly, the bus driver demands that she stand up, and quiet, mild-mannered Rosa does something that no one expects: she refuses. Reminiscing of all the work and protesting that she and others have done to bring equality to all Americans, Rosa decides that she will not give up her seat on the bus, and is arrested. When word of this gets out, a women’s political action group immediately sets to work raising support for Rosa, and eventually they and several other groups organize protests, a boycott, and marches to protest the unfair laws that separate white and “colored” people in public places. With the movement gaining both steam and the support of their fellow Americans, the buses are soon desegregated by a Supreme Court ruling… and it all began with one woman’s simple act of defiance.

This was a great retelling of a seminal moment and figure in the Civil Rights movement, featuring a brisk yet powerful story and gorgeous art. The story has some great messages about courage and the right to equality and the illustrations are powerful and evocative. The length is fine, and JJ enjoyed it. There a few small issues: there’s a strange moment that seems to imply that men have a right to more space on public transit than women, which I didn’t love. But overall, this is still a story about how one very ordinary woman had the power to inspire others to fight for what’s right, and we liked it. Baby Bookworm approved!

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