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Back of the Bus Hardcover – January 7, 2010
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Rosa Parks’ defiant December 1955 confrontation on a segregated bus in Montgomery, Alabama, is told from the fictionalized viewpoint of a child who is there. In free verse, he describes riding the bus with his mama (“We’re sittin’ right there where we’re supposed to— / way in back”) and rolling a marble down the aisle to the front, where smiling Mrs. Parks rolls it back to him. Then, as people pile on the bus, the driver tells Parks to move to the back. She refuses, and the driver calls the police. The boy “knows . . . she don’t belong up front like that, but then he realizes “maybe she does too.” The child’s innocent viewpoint personalizes the well-known historical event, while Cooper’s oil paintings, expertly rendered in his signature “subtractive” style, show the crowded bus as well as stunning portraits of Parks, the driver, the boy, and his mother as they decide that they are “not gonna hide no more.” Grades 1-3. --Hazel Rochman
"Coupled with Cooper's rich paintings, this is a noteworthy reflection on the actions of a single individual in turning the tide of segregation."
—School Library Journal
"Cooper's filmy oil paintings are characterized by a fine mistlike texture, which results in warm, lifelike portraits that convincingly evoke the era, the intense emotional pitch of this incident, and the everyday heroism it embodied."
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Illustrated by Floyd Cooper