Saturday, January 23, 2010

Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice

Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice
by Phillip Hoose
New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2009. 144 pgs. Biography.

Phillip Hoose's award-winning biography acquaints readers young and old with a little-known heroine of the Civil Rights Movement. Claudette Colvin was fifteen years old when she had totally had it with the Montgomery, Alabama, bus system which required her to relinquish her seat to a white person when asked, even if there were other seats available in the bus. When she refused to move she was arrested by the transit police and did jail time. Although local civil rights' leaders commended her actions and arranged representation for her at her trial, she was deemed too young and too fractious to be the public face of what would become the Montgomery Bus Boycott. (That face would, sometime later, belong to Rosa Parks.) Later, as an unwed, pregnant teenager, Colvin's stock would sink even lower, but her courage in facing the initial arrest, and her willingness to testify against those who had wronged her--and all black citizens--in Federal Court are an exemplary if little-known part of the civil rights movement in America. Part exposition and part first-person narrative, Hoose's book is a masterful retelling of an important story. One violent and vulgar racial slur make this a book for older children or one that parents may want to read with their children. Recipient of a 2010 Newbery Honor award and a Sibert honor for children's informational book.

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