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THE BUS RIDE by William Miller


by William Miller & illustrated by John Ward

Age Range: 5 - 10

Pub Date: July 15th, 1998
ISBN: 1-880000-60-1
Publisher: Lee & Low

Miller (Richard Wright and the Library Card, 1997, etc.) reimagines the story of Rosa Parks’s historic refusal to give up her bus seat as it might have happened to Sara, a young girl with an intuitive grasp of right and wrong. Parks has written the introduction to this story of Sara and her mother, who ride the bus every morning: Sara to school and her mother, whose stop is before Sara’s, to her job cleaning homes. One morning, after her mother had left, Sara becomes curious about what is in the front of the bus, so she wanders forward and sits opposite the driver. He tells her to move back where she belongs. Sara demurs; her new seat will do. The driver slams on the breaks, opens the doors, and orders her off. Sara sits tight, only aware that there is a basic unfairness at work; it’s her ingenuous way of making a stand. She is carried off the bus by the police and as she is being booked, the media gets in on the event. Next day, Sara’s noble act is splashed across the headlines, which prompts a rider boycott and an overturning of the law. What makes this book so effective are two things: First, Miller keeps the story intimate, without portentous forebodings of history in the making; second, Ward’s terrific realistic illustrations make the story utterly accessible. The approach is low-key, but readers will feel the winds of history rustle in these pages. (Picture book. 5-10)