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Freedom Walkers: The Story of the Montgomery Bus Boycott Grades 6-8 Paperback – January 15, 2009

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Starred Review. Grade 4-6–Freedman begins this outstanding history by reminding his audience that the injustices of racial segregation did not happen that long ago in the United States. Throughout the book, he gives accounts of how much coordination and sacrifice went into conducting the Montgomery Bus Boycott–far more than students are likely to imagine from the usual popular and oversimplified versions offered in textbooks and on television. There is a refreshing emphasis on depictions of regular people and forgotten local crusaders working together to make the boycott possible and triumphant, from inspiring descriptions of drivers getting up at dawn to take others to work to accounts of well-known civil-rights lawyers working to find the right plaintiff to challenge unjust laws. Freedman's prose style pulls readers into the narrative, integrating the actual recorded words and deeds of the people to tell the story. The high-quality, black-and-white photographs range from everyday scenes of African-American boycotters meeting, waiting for carpools, and protesting to representations of more famous figures, such as Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Jr., etc. Extensive chapter notes, an annotated selected bibliography, and a thorough index round out the exemplary presentation. Pair this volume with Ann Bausum's Freedom Riders (National Geographic) and Nikki Giovanni's Rosa (Holt, both 2005) for a powerful introduction to the Civil Rights Movement.–Michael Santangelo, Brooklyn Public Library, NY
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* As Freedman points out, the Montgomery Bus Boycott was a triumphant historical event, and there are numerous memoirs, articles, and scholarly works, for adults and for young readers, about the leaders and the ordinary heroes. In his signature clear prose, Freedman draws on the best of those personal stories and historical accounts to provide a dramatic overview of how the 381-day resistance to segregated buses spearheaded the civil rights movement. He brings close the experience of what it was like to be there, on the bus and on the street. With the eloquent accounts of the legendary heroes--Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King and more--are the stories of other important activists, including Jo Ann Robinson (president of the Women's Political Council) and teenager Claudette Colvin, as well as the lawyers and politicians. The photo-essay design is attractive and spacious. On every spread, readers will find beautifully reproduced black-and-white photos, including famous pictures as well as a few not often seen, including a picture of a leaflet urging boycott. Suggest Diane McWhorter's A Dream of Freedom (2004) and Ellen Levin's Freedom's Children (1993) to readers who will want to find out more. Freedman provides fully documented chapter notes and an excellent bibliographic essay. Hazel Rochman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 10 and up
  • Grade Level: 5 - 08
  • Lexile Measure: 1110L (What's this?)
  • Paperback: 112 pages
  • Publisher: Holiday House; 1 edition (January 15, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0823421953
  • ISBN-13: 978-0823421954
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 7.5 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #14,667 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Russell Freedman received the Newbery Medal for LINCOLN: A PHOTOBIOGRAPHY. He is also the recipient of three Newbery Honors, a National Humanities Medal, the Sibert Medal, the Orbis Pictus Award, and the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award, and was selected to give the 2006 May Hill Arbuthnot Honor Lecture. Mr. Freedman lives in New York City and travels widely to research his books.

Customer Reviews

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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By E. R. Bird HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on October 15, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Sometimes I wonder about the process that your average author of non-fiction titles for children goes through. What, for example, makes an author, such as well-respected and brilliant Russell Freedman, decide to write about the Montgomery Bus Boycott? The man could really write about anything he wanted. He could do a book about The Black Panthers (since not a single non-fiction children's title exists on the subject) or the life of Boss Tweed or how Kalamazoo, Michigan became the Celery City, if he so desired. Instead he concentrates on the honestly inspiring boycott that sparked the Civil Rights Movement. When I heard this I felt at first that this particular subject had been "done". There are oodles of books on the topic. Why would Freedman feel he needed to add his two cents as well? Then I thought it through. Sure, there are lots of books on the boycott, but who do they praise? Nine times out of ten the real focus of the story is Rosa Parks. Once in a while it'll mention the other Civil Rights leaders here and there. The true heroes of the movement who've never really had their due, however, were the average joes. The black maids, elderly, children, and working folk who gave up their comfort, jobs, and who knows what all to support a cause that had never been won before. With "Freedom Walk", Freeman is giving credit where credit is due, to both the leaders and the people who made it happen.

It's a story of heroism on a local level. An understandable tale that doesn't lose any of its power over time. This is the story of the Montgomery Bus Boycott as it occurred from start to finish. But rather than concentrate on a single person or persons, Freeman gives credit and voice to some people you may not have heard from before. There was Jo Ann Robinson who lent her support.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By GCMom on March 12, 2014
Format: Paperback
I'm reading this book aloud to my twelve year old daughter as we study the history of America. I wasn't sure if a book like this, full of facts and information and not much dialog, would hold her interest let alone mine. However at the end of Chapter Three "Rosa Parks", my daughter exclaimed, "Don't stop reading! I want to know what happened next!" It's hard to read only one chapter a day.

We are finding the story of the boycott to be fascinating! It angers me that white people were so ignorant and imposed such ridiculous rules on blacks. I also had no idea the lengths black people in Montgomery went to in order to secure a freedom that should have been theirs to begin with. I'm impressed with their non-violent means, their dedication to the cause, their untiring willingness to walk everywhere, and to help each other out with car pools.

The author uses language that both young and old can understand. Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King, Jr are central to the fight, but Russell Freedman includes lesser known names such as Jo Ann Robinson, Claudette Colvin, and E.D. Nixon. He also recognizes that some white people, such as Robert Graetz also took up the cause against bus segregation. Remarkable photographs of key events and key people are a bonus in this book.

This is an amazing story told in such an understandable way that one is not likely to forget it.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By N. S. VINE VOICE on November 10, 2006
Format: Hardcover
It has always confused me how someone managed to take that excellent photograph of Rosa Parks being fingerprinted after her arrest for failing to give up her seat on the bus. After all, nobody knew that she, on that particular day, would be on a crowded bus, would be commanded to give up her seat by a bus driver who wanted to make room for an oncoming white passenger, and would be arrested and fingerprinted. But I've certainly seen that particular photograph in plenty of places, both in print and online.

Among the whole range of new things I learned about the Montgomery Bus Boycott from reading FREEDOM WALKERS was that the photo to which I am referring was actually taken when, months later, Ms. Parks gave herself up for arrest the second time, in this case for breaking "an obscure 1921 state law prohibiting boycotts 'without just cause or legal excuse.' " (A mass series of arrests on this charge, including Rosa's and Martin's, was one of the tactics employed by the city government that, in cahoots with the bus company, was trying to break the Boycott.)

So, for me, another history mystery was solved thanks to the meticulous work of Russell Freedman, a guy whose name has long been synonymous both with top quality research and with an ability to consistently craft children's informational books that read as compelling stories rather than compilations of facts.

I often worry about how the current trend of teaching to tests and NCLB mandates results in teachers needing to "cover" so many things that students are growing up oblivious to, or know only superficially of many important issues. As is said, "Where is the learning in coverage?
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Jennifer Donovan on February 24, 2007
Format: Hardcover
One might think that they've heard the story about the early days of the civil rights movement, and specifically the roles of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rosa Parks as far as standing up (or sitting down, as the case may be) for what is right. However, Russell Freedman tells this story as a collective experience, from the points of view of the teenagers, men, women, leaders and followers who sacrificed for over a year in this boycott in order to bring about change. Yes, it lasted for over a year. How many of you knew that? I did not. It was the length of time and the full sacrifice that was made that really spoke to me from the pages of this book. A great wrong was being legislated in the city of Montgomery, Alabama, and all across the South, and a dedicated group of African Americans, led by Martin Luther King, Jr., finally decided not to be victims any longer.

As I read, the sense of the injustice settled over me heavily. It is hard for me to believe that this world existed only ten years before my birth. Hearing the quotes and seeing the pictures that were carefully selected proves that this story is not just a kind of legend or myth. It's not a pretty story, but this is a fair telling of these events. There are a few sympathetic Whites mentioned, but in general, there were not many who were willing to defend the rights of the minorities. I continue to live in hope that times have changed and will continue to change so that a time will come when color or nationality or creed truly doesn't make a difference.
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