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. (Feb.)
K-Gr 4-This true story (Scholastic, 1995) by Robert Coles recounts the actions of Ruby Bridges, a six-year-old African-American girl, who courageously went to her first-grade class in a New Orleans elementary school after court-ordered desegregation in 1960. White parents would not allow their children to attend the school, and angry crowds taunted Ruby as she was escorted to class by federal marshals. The courageous little girl "began learning how to read and write in an empty classroom, an empty building." Ruby's teacher was amazed at Ruby's calm manner and perseverance to learn in such a hostile environment. After many months, one white family began sending their sons to Ruby's school, and soon the other students returned-and integration was achieved. Lea Chapman eloquently narrates this story of a child's inner strength and heroism. An upbeat bluegrass tune in the background emulates Ruby's steadiness and optimism, and George Ford's watercolor paintings are scanned iconographically. Concepts such as integration, civil rights, and the power of hate are presented and will promote class discussions. A powerful story about a child's heroism and perseverance and an excellent history lesson.-Nancy Baumann, Indian Paintbrush Elementary School, Laramie, WY Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.