In 1946 Nova Scotia, Viola Desmond thought to pass an afternoon at the movies while waiting for her car to be repaired. Desmond was the owner of her own beauty salon and founder of the Desmond School of Beauty Culture to train black students. She sat downstairs at the Roseland Theatre, although black people were supposed to sit in the balcony. She refused to move, was arrested and held in jail overnight. Throughout her trial and subsequent appeal, no one would admit that this was a racial issue. Instead the judge focused on the tiny differential in ticket price and fined her $20, then worth ten times what it is today. Using a cadenced style that echoes the oral tradition of African-Canadians, Warner recounts the story simply, allowing children to see raw discrimination for what it was. Rudnicki uses bold acrylics in vivid colors to tell the story. He captures the style, dress and look of the period, and the flap copy notes his images were based on archival photographs. An historical note with a couple of bibliographic citations offers more background. (Picture book. 6-9)Copyright Kirkus 2010 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.
Years before Rosa Parks's act of civil disobedience, Viola Desmond refused to give up her seat in a movie theater in Nova Scotia. Dragged out of the theater, sent to jail, and charged a fine, Viola returned home and shared her experience with her community, who fought (unsuccessfully) to appeal her case. Debut author Warner's conversational prose is message-driven ("They took Viola to jail. Can you believe it?") while Rudnicki's illustrations, in bright shades of green, red, and orange, are dramatic, if sometimes garish. An appended section on African-Canadian history provides additional background; Desmond's story should prove eye-opening to readers whose civil rights references are limited to American figures. Ages 5-9. (Nov.)[Page ]. Copyright 2010 PWxyz LLC
Gr 1-4--Readers accustomed to stories of enslaved African Americans trying to reach Canada and freedom may be surprised to learn that slavery was legal there until 1834. Although the laws were not as restrictive as those in parts of the United States, many African-Canadians faced discrimination well into the 20th century. In 1946, Desmond was a successful businesswoman. On her way from Halifax to a meeting in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia, her car broke down. Since the repairs would take several hours, she decided to go to a movie while she waited. She purchased a ticket and took a seat on the main floor of the theater. An usher told her she had to move to the balcony. When Desmond refused, she was forcibly removed by the police and spent the night in jail. While segregation was not technically legal, it was enforced by custom. Although the story is serious, the picture-book format and rhythmic text that mimics oral speech patterns will be inviting to a wide range of readers. The acrylic paintings portray Desmond as well dressed and professional, and the bold colors reflect her strength of will. Varying perspectives heighten the emotional intensity, as do the excellent layout and design. This unique offering will be of particular value when studying women's or black history.--Lucinda Snyder Whitehurst, St. Christopher's School, Richmond, VA[Page 98]. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.