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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "...She was tired. Not tired from work, but tired of putting white people first..."
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...
Published on April 26, 2006 by Tilly

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75 of 79 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars "The only tired I was, was tired of giving in".
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...
Published on February 5, 2006 by E. R. Bird


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75 of 79 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars "The only tired I was, was tired of giving in"., February 5, 2006
This review is from: Rosa (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. He has done this, he says in his Illustrator's Note, because "I wanted the reader to feel in that heat a foreshadowing, an uneasy quiet before the storm". Along the way he spots the pictures with intelligent details as well. A man riding the bus holds up an article prefaced by just the words, "Emmett Till". When Rosa refuses to move you suddenly get an image from her perspective. A white man glares at her with obvious hatred while some black women frown at Rosa for putting them in (what they see as) potential danger. And that image of just her hands clutching the strap of her purse? Heck, I wouldn't mind framing that and putting it on a wall. That's art in the purest sense of the word. So no argument on how wonderful the images are in this book. It's the words you have to contest.

I had high hopes for Rosa. I hoped that the book talked about Ms. Parks in the NAACP, didn't perpetuate the myth that she was "tired", and was well-written. Says Rosa Parks in her autobiography, "Rosa Parks: My Story", "People always say that I didn't give up my seat because I was tired, but that isn't true. I was not tired physically, or no more tired than I usually was at the end of a working day. I was not old, although some people have an image of me as being old then. I was forty-two. No, the only tired I was, was tired of giving in". In fact, further reading of her book shows that Ms. Parks was an active member of the NAACP. She was an activist and at the time of her arrest the NAACP had been hoping to have a case in which they could file suit against the city of Montgomery over bus segregation. A woman had been arrested earlier that summer but had paid her fine without objection. "Hers certainly wasn't a good case for Mr. Nixon to appeal to a higher court. I knew they needed a plaintiff who was beyond reproach". And though she did not step-by-step plan her own arrest, she understood its greater implications.

Ms. Giovanni does not mention that Rosa Parks was more than just an everyday seamstress going home at the end of a workday. At one point she sees a man who "came frequently to the NAACP Youth Council affairs", but the book makes no mention that she herself was a member. To her credit, the author does make an after-the-fact statement of how Rosa wasn't physically tired. So there is that. But there are factual inaccuracies in this book that do not match Ms. Parks' own book. According to "Rosa", Jo Ann Robinson learned of the arrest when, "A sister member of the Women's Political Council approached her just as she reached the checkout lane". Ms. Robinson was indeed the president of this council but she was told of Ms. Park's arrest through Fred Gray, a black attorney. In "Rosa" the Women's Council is the only organization that comes up with the idea of the boycott. In reality much of the credit goes to the work of E.D. Nixon who mobilized support through the city's black ministers. "Rosa" mentions them later when the boycott has already been established and the NAACP, Women's Political Council, and churches decide on Martin Luther King Jr. as their spokesperson.

Okay, but then there's the writing itself. It's very odd, but for some reason the book makes a big big point out of how many of the women who contributed to the Civil Rights movement spent much of their time thinking about tending to their husbands. Right before the bus driver tells her to move the book says that Ms. Parks was, "daydreaming about her good day and planning her special meal for her husband". Two other times it says that she would surprise her husband with "meat loaf, his favorite" and that when she was paying her fare "she was smiling in anticipation of the nice dinner she would make". Now Ms. Giovanni, as it happens, knew Rosa Parks personally so we can assume that she got this information firsthand. It just struck me as a touch out of place. When Rosa got on that bus she recognized the bus driver as a particularly nasty fellow she'd dealt with in the past before. There was no daydreaming involved in her autobiography. Apparently such additions make for a better story though. When Jo Ann Robinson finds out about Rosa's arrest she "rushed home to put dinner on the table, cleaned up the kitchen, and put the kids to bed". Obviously these are all important things in their own way, but why were they included in this story? Is Ms. Giovanni trying to make a point that the women of the civil rights movement didn't abandon their families while they fought for justice? If so, why? It doesn't seem integral to the story. This is a book about Rosa Parks and the larger context of what she did.

And then there's the text. It's unfortunate but I kept getting annoyed at the book's writing style. At one point it says that "Rosa Parks was the best seamstress. The needle and thread flew through her hands like the gold spinning from Rumpelstiltskin's loom". Rumpelstiltskin's loom, eh? Rumpelstiltskin had a loom? I guess saying "spinning wheel" would have been redundant since she'd already said "spinning" and figured that few enough people know what looms are to complain. It's a petty complaint with the book, sure, but it rankles. In another case the book never mentions how Ms. Parks got out of jail. She goes to jail, sure. But you would think her release would be an important part of the story. For all that the kids reading this book know, Ms. Parks is still sitting inside that jail cell in Montgomery, Alabama.

After a second and third reading of the book I flipped to the back to see what books were included in "Rosa"'s bibliography. Obviously Ms. Giovanni wasn't working off of "Rosa Parks: My Story", so what books did she consult? From her friendship with Ms. Parks it must have been from one-on-one interviews since there isn't hide nor hair of a bibliography to be seen. You may say that it's a little silly of me to think there would be a bibliography in the back of a picture book, but I've read enough empowering and well-wrought picture book biographies that DID have bibliographies that I naturally assumed "Rosa" would too. No such luck.

So here's the dilemma. The book is about a true hero of the American people. Nobody but NOBODY contests that. The pictures in this book are drop-dead gorgeous too. Bryan Collier is a genius. Rosa Parks, however, deserved the best possible picture book biography. Instead she has a book about her that does not credit factual sources, includes details that do not fit, and holds back important information that children should learn. You want my advice? Read "Rosa Parks: My Story" (NOT the picture book one but the 192 page version), know the true facts of the case, then take "Rosa" and show the pictures to your kids while telling them the true tale. Criticizing anything that has to do with Rosa Parks is a dangerous activity. Ms. Giovanni's heart is in the right place. And, I will point out, this book garnered itself a coveted Caldecott, so what the heck do I know? For your consideration.
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38 of 45 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful illustrations, writing is poorly done, November 29, 2005
This review is from: Rosa (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 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "...She was tired. Not tired from work, but tired of putting white people first...", April 26, 2006
This review is from: Rosa (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
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful and well written, January 28, 2006
By 
Murphy (Portland, OR) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Rosa (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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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful prose and illustrations, but..., June 10, 2007
This review is from: Rosa (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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Tired of Giving In, September 23, 2010
By 
This review is from: Rosa (Paperback)
"I've had enough! I can't put up with any more, no, no, no, no. I've had enough!" -- Paul McCartney, 1977 from "I've Had Enough"

The story of how Rosa Parks literally went on a sit down strike in late 1955 when she was told to relinquish her seat on the bus for a white passenger is one I have been told my entire life. This beautiful book brings Rosa's daring and courageous stand (or sit down strike) to light for readers of all ages to appreciate and respect.

Kim & Reggie Harris, a gifted husband and wife team have done a collection of excellent songs about the underground railroad and bigotry in general. One song that I especially love contains these lyrics: "if you're riding in the back of the bus and you don't see me nowhere/just come on up to the front of the bus 'cause I'll be driving right there!" Get on Board! Underground Railroad & Civil Rights Freedom Songs, Vol. 2 and Steal Away - Songs of the Underground Railroad. Rosa Parks took her place in the call for Civil Rights by refusing to give in to a stupid racist practice.

I have learned over the years that Rosa took a seat in the middle of the bus instead of the far front or back. Ms. Parks, a seamstress in a department store had put in a full day and had paid her fare and since she paid her fare, she was darn well entitled to sit wherever she darn well pleased. She was a paying customer!

This book, like so many about Rosa Parks is literally riding the Bus of Myths about Rosa's activism, reinforcing the myth that she was tired. To its credit, this book confronts Jim Crow head on. Rosa was not physically tired; she was just good and tired of the bigotry and the callous treatment that was afforded blacks and other nonwhite people. The NAACP, on the one hand played up her refusal to give up her seat and taxed that on fatigue while on the other hand tried to tone down her activism.

Kudos to Bryan Collier for his sterling illustrations and Nikki Giovanni for telling this much needed story. Rosa's steadfast refusal to relinquish her seat sparked the Montgomery Bus Strike of 1955-56.

(Interestingly, in 1953 Vernon Johns, a contemporary of King's tried to start a bus strike when he and his daughter were told to move to the back of the bus. It is only in recent years that I have learned of Vernon Johns and his stand against Jim Crow).

In 1955, Rosa, then 42 was neither old nor fatigued. She even talks about the bus strike in her autobiography and tries to dispell the myths that have surrounded her since December of 1955. Rosa Parks was a strong member of the NAACP and the NAACP had long sought a chance to sue the City of Montgomery over bus and other forms of then legal segregation. Others, such as Vernon Johns in 1953 and a little-known passenger in the summer of 1955 challenged the Bus Laws by loudly refusing to move to the back and by refusing to pay the fare respectively. Rosa was arrested for not relinquishing her seat. Dr. Martin L. King, Jr. and Reverend E. D. Nixon were among the more prominent figures who led the rallying cry of boycotting the busses until the laws were changed. (King was elected by the local churches to be the spokesperson for this cause). In fact, the Bus Boycott of 1955-56 was SO successful that the bus companies were in serious financial straits. There was even talk at that time of shutting down public transportation because the majority of passengers who were forced to ride in the backs of busses simply were not taking them. I have talked to people who lived during that time who recalled seeing busses with only a handful of passengers and seeing many black commuters walking to work or, for the more fortunate getting rides from neighbors, relatives and even friends.

Rosa Parks was better than a hero. To me, "hero" means someone looking to accomplish some grandiose feat with the idea of receiving accolades. Rosa was better than a hero. She was a good person, an ordinary citizen who relied upon public transportation to commute to and from her job.

There are tones of sexism in this book. Several sentences are devoted to Ms. Parks thinking of the dinner she would make that she felt would be sure to please her husband. While that may have been the case, it doesn't fit in with the rest of the account. There were many women and even young girls such as Sheyanne ("Selma, Lord Selma") who were actively involved in Civil Rights. There were many women in high sociopolitical places such as Lady Bird Johnson (First Lady from 1963-1969) who were dedicated to Civil Rights. In fact, President Johnson has been called the Civil Rights President when he signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which gave black citizens legal protection to vote in Jim Crow states.

There is an element of the fairy tale in this book. Rosa Parks is elevated from being a regular person with a job as a seamstress to being "the best seamstress" and her needle and thread likened to that of Rumplestiltskin's loom. I never knew old Rumpy had a loom! I thought the little troll had a spinning wheel.

Since this author knew Ms. Parks personally, one can only surmise that she drew some of the personal inferences from conversations they had. I would take that with a grain of salt. I would put stock in Rosa Park's autobiography instead. There are many excellent picture books about public figures who have made a positive difference in the world today. Many of those books have bibliographies and an afterword, which I had hoped this book would have.

The bottom line is this. The illustrations are first rate; Rosa Parks is to be admired for not relinquishing her seat, but there are some factual issues. I highly recommend Rosa's own book, "Rosa Parks: My Story," text edition only for a factual presentation. There is a picture book version that is good for younger readers. Another reviewer on the U.S. boards is right by saying that Rosa Parks has been placed in the Sacred Cow category and critizing anything to do with her is indeed "a dangerous activity." In fact, many view it as heresy.

Dr. King has also been placed in this position. The prevailing attitude is "HOW DARE YOU" feel anything other than adoration for King or feel reason to critize him on any level. As a very young child, I once said that I was "tired of that [August 28, 1963] Dream Speech" being quoted as "like it was the only thing King ever said" and "didn't he [King] ever make any other speeches?" This was said in response to people I knew who quoted the same portion of that speech as if it was the be all and end all to King's career, which it most assuredly was not. I have known people who have quoted the most famous lines of that speech while maintaining a racist posture against non-blacks whom they felt were bigots. To me, that was the ANTITHESIS of what that speech was all about. I would later state that I preferred the 1965 "Earn Baby Earn" speech in response to the torching of Watts, California in 1965. To this day I prefer the 1965 "Earn Baby Earn" speech.

I think providing factual information as well as including beautiful illustrations to help reinforce the climate of the times is all to the good. Deifying a person ("Sacred Cow" status) or portraying them as heroic when in fact they are better than that; just ordinary people who are good people is not a good practice.

Still in all, a good effort.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mulitcultural Literature, March 8, 2007
This review is from: Rosa (Hardcover)
Most students are familiar with Rosa Parks, but this story takes you beyond the bus. We get a glimps into Rosa's personal life, which allows students to develop more connections. The illustrations are amazing, as is all of Bryan Collier's work. Great book selection!
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Rosa, November 8, 2006
This review is from: Rosa (Hardcover)
Everyday Rosa Parks rode the bus to work. There was a black and white section. She sat down in the neutral section and a man didn't want her to, but she stayed and got arrested. She was arrested for the wrong reason. People made signs and walked to support Rosa. They stopped riding the bus too.

I liked the book. The pictures were good. I learned that white and black people were separated. That's wrong. Since I read the book, I now want to watch a movie and learn more about Rosa Parks.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Rosa, February 11, 2007
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This review is from: Rosa (Hardcover)
Good book, beautiful artwork. Get the book if nothing else for the pictures. The book itself was ok, it was a little jumpy and didn't go into very much detail of the actual event. However, it is a nice book for young children who don't need or want much detail.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Rosa, October 13, 2009
This review is from: Rosa (Paperback)
The book "Rosa" by Nikki Giovanni, takes the reader though the day of December 1, 1955 with Mrs. Rosa Parks. There are details about her family and job up until the moment where Mrs. Parks decided to not give up her seat on the bus for a white person. She was taken to jail. Friends and the many of the community members rallied after Rosa's stand on the bus. Soon the colored citizens of Montgomery were boycotting the bus. They walked everywhere they had to go until November 13, 1956 when the Supreme Court ruled that segregation on the bus was not fair.

The story of Rosa Parks was one of my absolute favorites to study as a student; and now as a teacher in training I would really like to find a book that best illustrates her message. The illustration with in "Rosa" are beautiful but the wording of the text could be better. Rosa Parks story is a very important one for children to learn and it is also important that they have all the facts of this non-violent protest. This book does give the general facts of the events that happen that December 1 and the events that followed. I would have liked to see more about Rosa and how she was involved in the protest after her arrest. It seems that once she is arrested she just disappears from the story.
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Rosa
Rosa by Nikki Giovanni (Paperback - December 26, 2007)
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