By: Bryan Collier, Nikki Giovanni

Star Rating:



Spoiler Disclaimer


Rosa Parks was an ordinary African American woman living in Montgomery, Alabama during the 1950's. One day as she rode home from work on the bus, the driver asked her to move the back of the bus to make room for white passengers. When Mrs. Parks refused, he called the police and had her arrested. Rosa Parks' courageous act sparked a firestorm of protest which eventually led to the Supreme Court outlawing segregation.


Rosa is a lovely rendering of Rosa Parks' courageous act in a picture book format that is accessible to younger readers. I think most people are familiar with Mrs. Parks refusal to move to the back of the bus which sparked a huge wave in the civil rights movement, but author, Nikki Giovanni, gives the reader a little more information about the before and after. She begins by giving a bit of background on Rosa Parks which even educated me. I didn't realize that she was married, caring for an elderly mother and worked as a seamstress. Ms. Giovanni continues by detailing Mrs. Parks act of civil disobedience which led to her arrest. I was a little disappointed that she didn't tell any more about Mrs. Parks herself following that event. Instead the author finishes up by explaining how Rosa Parks' actions sparked a whole movement which eventually led to the Supreme Court ruling against segregation.

Artist Bryan Collier's illustrations are a lovely compliment to the text. I really felt like he captured Rosa Parks' essence in the pictures of her and the details are amazing. The textures and patterns of the clothing and accessories as well as some other items were very realistic looking, almost more like a photograph than a painting. Each one also has a kind of pieced-together look. I spent quite a while perusing each one, trying to figure out how Mr. Collier accomplished this. It wasn't until I read on his website that he incorporates watercolors and collage that is started to make sense. All in all, some very impressive artistic work.

Rosa was the winner of both the Coretta Scott King award and a Caldecott Honor Book, both of which I think are well-deserved. Overall, it was a lovely book that would be a great tool for teaching younger children about Rosa Parks and this particular chapter in the civil rights movement.


Nikki Giovanni

Bryan Collier