From Publishers Weekly
Ruby Bridges was the sole African American child to attend a New Orleans elementary school after court-ordered desegregation in 1960. Noted research psychiatrist Coles tells how federal marshals escorted the intrepid six-year-old past angry crowds of white protestors thronging the school. Parents of the white students kept them home, and so Ruby "began learning how to read and write in an empty classroom, an empty building." Although there are disappointingly few words from Ruby herself, Coles's use of quotes from her teacher adds to the story's poignancy ("Sometimes I'd look at her and wonder how she did it.... How she went by those mobs and sat here all by herself and yet seemed so relaxed and comfortable"). The story has a rather abrupt ending; the concluding page reprints the prayer that Ruby said daily, asking God to forgive the protesters. Coles cursorily finishes the tale of Ruby's unsettling year in an afterword (two boys and then the rest of the students returned to school; the mobs dispersed by the time Ruby entered second grade). Ford (Bright Eyes, Brown Skin; Paul Robeson) contributes affecting watercolors that play up Ruby's moral courage. Ages 5-9.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Ages 5-9. Sustained by family and faith, one brave six-year-old child found the strength to walk alone through howling protesters and enter a whites-only school in New Orleans in 1960. Ruby Bridges did it every day for weeks that turned into months. The white parents withdrew their kids, and Ruby sat alone with her teacher in an empty classroom in an empty building and learned her lessons. Harvard professor Cole has written powerful adult books about children in crisis and about children's moral and political lives. Here he tells one girl's heroic story, part of the history of ordinary people who have changed the world. He tells it quietly, as an adult, and the simplicity is moving, though kids might want some indication of Ruby's personal experience, what it was like to be her. Ford's moving watercolor paintings mixed with acrylic ink are predominantly in sepia shades of brown and red. They capture the physical warmth of Ruby's family and community, the immense powers against her, and her shining inner strength. Hazel Rochman