The story of Rosa Parks's historic 1955 bus ride has been told many times. In an odd but intriguing perspective, this book tells the tale of the bus itself, as a symbol of the Jim Crow South. Originally riding the streets of Terre Haute, Ind., bus #2857 did not get its painted sign separating white people from their "colored" neighbors until it arrived in Montgomery. For young readers, that time and place and "the way things were" may seem like ancient history. Kittinger carefully describes the system by which African Americans had to obey the dictates that controlled every aspect of their lives, especially the complicated rules of public transportation. Employing direct, accessible, relentless language arranged in free-verse stanzas, the author brings to life the drama of Parks's act (neither busting myths nor exploiting them) and the events it sparked. Walker's double-page, large-scale oils evoke the emotions of a determined people and perfectly complement the text. The author's note contextualizes the boycott and names Claudette Colvin and Mary Louise Smith as Parks's forerunners. Powerful. (sources) (Informational picture book. 6-10)
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Gr 1-4--Unlike Faith Ringgold's If a Bus Could Talk: The Story of Rosa Parks (S & S, 1999), Rosa's Bus is a factual history in picture-book format of Bus #2837 itself and its role in the larger Civil Rights Movement. No fantasy elements are present. The story starts with the bus rolling off the factory assembly line in 1948 and ends with the restored vehicle becoming an exhibit at the Henry Ford Museum in Michigan. After a few scenes showing Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., explaining the protest, the empty bus rolls by with walkers shown through its windows. The solid, heavy lines of Walker's oil paintings match the massive quality of the bus. The saturated colors convey strength and determination. Some prior knowledge is assumed because words such as boycott and Jim Crow are not explained in the text. Although there are already several high-quality picture books about Dr. King and Rosa Parks, this distinctive work is an excellent addition.--Lucinda Snyder Whitehurst, St. Christopher's School, Richmond, VA[Page 95]. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.