cover image Bus Ride

Bus Ride

William Miller. Lee & Low Books, $16.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-1-880000-60-1

Miller (Richard Wright and the Library Card) offers a streamlined, fictional account of the Montgomery, Ala., bus strike--inspired by Rosa Parks's pivotal act of courage. Each morning, young Sara and her mother sit at the back of the bus, on their respective ways to school and work, while the whites sit in front. The girl's ride is longer than her mother's, and one morning after her mother exits, Sara makes her way to the front of the bus (""I just wanted to see what was so special""). Sara's ordeal is understandably less harrowing than Parks's was, given her age: after she refuses to either move to the back or get off the bus, a police officer takes her to the station, where he calls her mother rather than arrest her. The following day, Sara becomes an instant celebrity when her photo appears on the front page of the newspaper, and a crowd falls in step behind mother and daughter as they boycott the bus. The author somewhat oversimplifies the results of the youngster's actions (""The bus company got mad. The mayor got mad. People got so mad they finally changed the law""), but the language is easily accessible to picture-book readers. Ward's (Kente Colors) closely focused, acrylic paintings (most of which show similar scenes of the bus interior) are as straightforward and unadorned as Miller's text. Perhaps most inspiring to readers will be Parks's brief introduction, in which she frankly states that she had no intention of making history on that day in 1955: ""I chose not to move because I was tired of laws that did not treat me like a first-class citizen in my own country."" Ages 4-up. (July)