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Rosa Hardcover – September 15, 2005

45 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews Review's Significant Seven
Nikki Giovanni graciously agreed to answer the questions we like to ask every author: the Significant Seven.

Q: What book has had the most significant impact on your life?
A: No single book. The poetry of Paul Laurence Dunbar, Langston Hughes, and Gwendolyn Brooks was an impact, however.

Q: You are stranded on a desert island with only one book, one CD, and one DVD--what are they?
A: Sula by Toni Morrison, Great American Spirituals, and The Godfather.

Q: What is the worst lie you've ever told?
A: "You're the best."

Q: Describe the perfect writing environment.
A: A cup of coffee, my rocking chair, the sun just rising through my left window.

Q: If you could write your own epitaph, what would it say?
A: "I tried."

Q: Who is the one person living or dead that you would like to have dinner with?
A: Lorraine Hansberry

Q: If you could have one superpower, what would it be?
A: I would fly.

From School Library Journal

Grade 3-5–Rosa Parks's personal story moves quickly into a summary of the Civil Rights movement in this striking picture book. Parks is introduced in idealized terms. She cares for her ill mother and is married to one of the best barbers in the county. Sewing in an alterations department, Rosa Parks was the best seamstress. Her needle and thread flew through her hands like the gold spinning from Rumpelstiltskin's loom. Soon the story moves to her famous refusal to give up her seat on the bus, but readers lose sight of her as she waits to be arrested. Giovanni turns to explaining the response of the Women's Political Caucus, which led to the bus boycott in Montgomery. A few events of the movement are interjected–the Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education, the aftermath and reactions to the murder of Emmett Till, the role of Martin Luther King, Jr., as spokesperson. Collier's watercolor and collage scenes are deeply hued and luminous, incorporating abstract and surreal elements along with the realistic figures. Set on colored pages, these illustrations include an effective double foldout page with the crowd of successful walkers facing a courthouse representing the 1956 Supreme Court verdict against segregation on the buses. Many readers will wonder how it all went for Parks after her arrest, and there are no added notes. Purposeful in its telling, this is a handsome and thought-provoking introduction to these watershed acts of civil disobedience.–Margaret Bush, Simmons College, Boston
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Product Details

  • Age Range: 4 - 8 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool and up
  • Lexile Measure: 900L (What's this?)
  • Series: Caldecott Honor Book
  • Hardcover: 40 pages
  • Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR); First Edition edition (October 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0439898838
  • ISBN-13: 978-0439898836
  • ASIN: 0805071067
  • Product Dimensions: 8.8 x 0.4 x 11.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #850,955 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

80 of 84 people found the following review helpful By E. R. Bird HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on February 5, 2006
Format: Hardcover
When I was a child in elementary school and Black History Month came along, the children in my class were taught small songs about various African-American heroes. There was the Harriet Tubman song, the Benjamin Banneker song, and the Rosa Parks song. The Rosa Parks song began in this way, "Rosa Parks was tired and sat / In the front of the bus not back / They tried to make her change her seat / Because she was black". Of course, there are two things wrong with this song already. First of all, she sat in the middle of the bus. Not the back of it. Second of all she wasn't tired. Ms. Parks was an activist, but to make her seem like an everywoman her membership in the NAACP was downplayed so that she would be more sympathetic. The plan worked beautifully and Ms. Parks was raised to the status of folk-hero, as was right. UN-fortunately, there are countless children's books out there that choose to ignore her activism. They are under the distinct impression that if children also think that Ms. Parks was tired or unwittingly told to move that it's so much easier a story to tell. "Rosa" is one such book.

No one is going to hold this book in their hands and say that it isn't one of the loveliest creations ever to hit the children's book market. Bryan Collier, by all accounts one of the nicest guys on the globe, has never received the respect and attention he so richly deserves. My hope is that someday he illustrates a book worthy of a Caldecott Award rather than a Caldecott Honor. Unfortunately this was not the book. It is through no fault of his own, of course. Mr. Collier has taken his trademark watercolor and collage technique and given it a purposeful yellow hue.
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39 of 47 people found the following review helpful By Rachel D. Flachman on November 29, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I bought this book because I wanted something substantive for the little girls in my life who dream of being princesses... (really, how many tiara's does a four-year old really need?) I read the first few pages and was smitten with the illustrations. They are beautiful. Well done Mr. Collier. Since beautiful illustrations go far in this age range, I would give this book three stars.

The Rosa Parks story stands alone as one of substance. But this book falls short of providing a readable story for children. It doesn't flow as good writing should for any age group, but rather jumps around and tries to provide so much data, that it fails to actually tell a story about the great lady it was written to commemorate.

If you have enough history about the story and can tell it yourself to your children, the book may be worth buying for the illustrations alone. For my money, I would rather find something that is also a good read for my kids.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Tilly on April 26, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I liked Ms. Giovanni's approach to telling this story. Given that it is a children's book, I appreciate that she looks at the humanity of Rosa Parks, (a woman with a life and a husband), rather than just her political role. I know that my kids will relate better to the story because of that.

Furthermore, Ms. Giovanni doesn't pretend that the events on the bus were an unforeseeable coincidence. I find the lead up to be both personal and portentous of things to come. It reads better as being opportunistic rather than engineered or manipulated and I don't think that she portrays Rosa as lacking intention. In fact, I imagine that Ms. Giovanni's source (as I have read) was her meeting with Rosa Parks herself. I expect that, in person, the truth of her story reaches a deeper personal level and Ms. Giovanni felt able to build on previously documented interpretations. Everyone has a voice and with the warm, expressive pictures, I find it an effective combination for children.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Murphy on January 28, 2006
Format: Hardcover
This is a beautifully illustrated AND written picture book about Rosa Parks. Both the words and illustrations are sophisticated and will spark questions when you read this aloud. It is difficult to find books about Rosa Parks that speak the truth and this one does. Nikki Giovanni, the poet, writes in a straightforward way that doesn't dumbdown the text as so many children's books do. The conversations will go beyond this book...which is what we want with a good picture book!

Bryan Collier's illustrations are genius. Each one is a discussion within itself.

Excellent book if you are a teacher or parent who likes to not only read to your children, but also question and discuss beyond the text. Wonderful! Well deserving of the King award for illustrations.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By KAROW on June 10, 2007
Format: Hardcover
if you're looking for an children's biography of Rose Parks or of the Civil Rights Movement, this books isn't it.

Buy it for Giovanni's magical and powerful words.

Buy it for Collier's amazing pictures.

Don't buy it if it's intended to teach children who are wholly uninformed about American history. I had six immigrant teenagers read this book, and all they could tell me after they were finished was that Rosa Parks was a lady who was thrown off a bus because of white people. They weren't sure why. And then a bunch of people walked to Washington D.C. afterwards, but they weren't sure how this connected to Rosa getting thrown off the bus. In the end the teens were really confused.
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