cover image I Am Ruby Bridges

I Am Ruby Bridges

Ruby Bridges, illus. by Nikkolas Smith. Orchard, $18.99 (48p) ISBN 978-1-338-75388-2

In an autobiography told through a child’s eyes, Ruby Bridges (b. 1954) recounts her experience as the first Black child desegregating William Frantz Elementary School in 1960 New Orleans. External events mean little to six-year-old Bridges as she contemplates “how much I didn’t even like my name” and starts out “at a regular school with lots of other kids to play with.” But following Brown v. Board of Education, her parents’ choice of a school “with better opportunities” brings white federal marshals to the door as an escort. “Who told them I needed a ride to school anyway?” says Bridges, seemingly unaware of the context behind the moment. Viewing class pictures at school finally offers clarity for the child, who sees her experience as a good thing for all: “Who cares what colors we are?... School is just school and kids are just kids.” Smith’s vigorous digital brushwork portrays Ruby, in sharp relief against blurry backgrounds, as she celebrates being “the first.” Ages 4–8. (Sept.)