Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Busing Brewster - A review

This morning my daughter had her first day of school. I tied her hair ribbons and admired her outfit, took her photograph by the front door, and watched her bounce around with her friends in her new classroom. I was reminded that we are so lucky to live in a place where going to school is easy. My daughter does not have to go to school secretly the way girls in some counties have to do. Her African American classmates can come to school knowing that they will be welcomed and appreciated. As I looked at my daughter's happy and excited face I was reminded of a book that I read just a short time ago about a little boy who had a very different first day of school. 

Richard Michelson
Illustrated by R. G. Roth
Picture Book
Ages 4 to 8
Random House, 2010, 978-0-375-83334-2
   This fall Brewster is going into first grade at Franklin elementary, and Miss Evelyn is going to be his teacher. Brewster’s brother Bryan teases him, telling him that Miss Evelyn is mean, but Brewster knows that in real life Miss Evelyn is a very nice teacher.
   Then one day Brewster’s mother tells her sons that they will be going to Central instead of Franklin. Central is a white school where there are “rooms for art and music and a roof that doesn’t leak.” Bryan is very upset about this change in his life. He does not want to have to ride on a bus for an hour to get to the new school. He doesn’t want to go to a school where there “Ain’t no Negroes.”
   When Bryan, Brewster and the other African American students arrive at Central, they are given a very rude welcome. Rocks are thrown through the bus windows, white people are demonstrating outside the school, and two policeman are standing on guard at the door. The school day hasn’t even started before Bryan gets into trouble with a white boy called Freckle-face. One of the policemen escorts Bryan, Freckle-face, and Brewster to the library, and Brewster discovers a whole new world that inspires him to dream of new possibilities.
   This memorable book looks at what it was like to be a part of the desegregation of schools in America. In addition, it shows readers how books can open up doors in the minds of children; books can help children to see that they do have the power to change their world if they want to.

You can visit the author on his website and on his Facebook page. 

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