cover image Busing Brewster

Busing Brewster

Richard Michelson, illus. by R.G. Roth, Knopf, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-375-83334-2

Michelson (As Good As Anybody) provides an immediate, child’s-eye view of court-ordered busing in the 1970s. First-grader Brewster and his older brother, Bryan, are bused to Central, “the white school,” an hour away. Brewster is heartened by his mother’s comment that the school has a pool and a library—“I don’t know how to read, or how to swim. But I’m glad Mama’s happy”—but nervous, too. In a trenchant scene, Brewster asks Bryan what roadside protestors’ “whites only” signs say, to which he responds, “Welcome to Central”—just before a rock crashes through the bus window. After a scuffle lands the brothers (and a white boy Bryan befriends) in the school library for detention, Brewster tells the librarian, “Mama hopes I’ll be president,” and she replies, “So we’d better begin by teaching you how to read.” Using soft earth tones, Roth’s (This Jazz Man) stylized mixed media images are an amalgam of angular characters, geometric shapes, and patterned fabrics that feel like an artful interpretation of the era’s cartoons. They readily underscore the collision of innocence and prejudice, anger and hope. Ages 6–10. (May)