Because Claudette

Tracey Baptiste

Book - 2022

"A picture book biography about Claudette Colvin, the teen whose activism launched the Montgomery bus boycott, and a celebration of collective action"--

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Review by Booklist Review

On March 2, 1955 in Montgomery, Alabama, a 15-year-old Black student named Claudette Colvin was arrested for refusing to give up her bus seat to a white person. Over the next nine moths, four other Black women, including Rosa Parks, were arrested on the same charge. In December, the Montgomery bus boycott began. It continued for more than two years, until the law was changed and enforced. During that time, Colvin testified in court about her experience. Baptiste points out that Colvin's act of civil disobedience came after she had been studying Sojourner Truth, Frederick Douglass, and Harriet Tubman in high school. The book's unusual title echoes the many sentences beginning with the word because and forming a chain of connected circumstances and events. The narrative offers an informative account of events and Colvin's place in history. Created with acrylic underpainting and oils, the vivid illustrations capture the look of the times and the satisfaction of those who challenged injustice and prevailed. An effective picture book portraying Colvin and her significance in the civil rights movement.

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission. Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

Emphasizing cause and effect, Baptiste follows activist Claudette Colvin (b. 1939), who, at age 15, refused to relinquish her bus seat for a white person. After her arrest, she met Rosa Parks thanks to her lawyer, Fred Gray; subsequently, Colvin began attending NAACP meetings. Featuring the word because in most clauses, the text highlights mounting support for the civil rights movement, and how Colvin's actions helped lead to the Montgomery bus boycott. "Because she had studied Sojourner Truth and Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass at school, she learned how they worked hard and caused trouble so Black people would be treated fairly," one spread reads, richly enlivened by Engel's portraits, rendered in acrylic underpainting and oils on textured vellum paper. A powerful narrative that showcases generative energy of acts of resistance both big and small. Back matter includes an author's note and further reading. Ages 6--8. (Jan.)

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved Review by School Library Journal Review

Gr 2--5--On March 2, 1955, 15-year-old Claudette Colvin refused to give her bus seat to a white person, nine months before Rosa Parks's famous act of civil disobedience. Parks befriended the young woman and encouraged her to get involved with the NAACP youth division. The author frames the narrative with the "Because" construct, showing how the civil rights movement was a series of acts of civil disobedience, all part of a larger movement to abolish segregation. Baptiste successfully demonstrates how the decision made by one young person reverberated through history. Cameos by Martin Luther King, Jr. and less-widely celebrated Aurelia Browder, Susie McDonald, and Mary Louise Smith reinforce how it was the collective work of many unsung people that led to victory in civil rights efforts. Engle's illustrations, rendered in acrylic underpainting and oils on textured vellum paper, are stunning. These exude a sense of warmth and unity. Especially powerful is a spread in which Colvin is understanding her place in history as one of many strong women who have "caused trouble" in the name of freedom. In the author's note, Baptiste explains how she was inspired to write this riveting picture book biography when she heard Fred Gray, civil rights attorney and Colvin's lawyer, say that the Montgomery bus boycott wouldn't have happened if it weren't for the teen's influence. Back matter includes materials for further reading. VERDICT A gorgeous tribute to a young Black activist that will inspire many readers. Add this to all picture book biography shelves. Luminous.--Shelley M. Diaz, School Library Journal

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. Review by Kirkus Book Review

On March 2, 1955, 15-year-old Claudette Colvin stood up to racism and segregation in Montgomery, Alabama. The African American teen's unwillingness to give up her seat on a bus to a White person, months before Rosa Parks famously did the same, led to her arrest. Her lawyer, Fred Gray, arranged for Parks to meet with Colvin, and the two became friends. At Parks' behest, Colvin joined the NAACP and spent evenings at Parks' home when the group's youth meetings ran late. Because they considered her a troublemaker, Colvin's classmates ostracized her. She was one of five plaintiffs in a federal court case that challenged Montgomery's discriminatory bus laws and one of the many people who mobilized to demand positive change. The Montgomery Bus Boycott began on Dec. 5, 1955, and by Dec. 21, 1956, anyone could sit wherever they chose on Montgomery's public buses. This approachable biography of the young activist highlights her bravery, commitment, and vulnerability. Young readers will appreciate learning about a regular kid who did something extraordinary. The acrylic and oil illustrations are vivid and eye-catching, re-creating the period well and capturing its atmosphere. The backmatter includes an author's note and a brief list of books for further reading. Most characters are Black; a few supporting characters are White. (This book was reviewed digitally.) An engaging profile of an inspiring civil rights hero whom readers will enjoy learning about and cheering for. (Picture-book biography. 5-8) Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.