Busing Brewster

32p. 978-0-37583-334-2.
Gr 1-5 Gr 15One fall, two African-American brothers learn that they will be bused to a predominantly white school. While Bryan complains ("Ain't no Negroes at Central"), Mama reassures first-grader Brewster that they will benefit from the new school's fine facilities, such as a well-stocked library. Mama says that with such advantages, Brewster might even be president someday. However, angry whites gather at the school in protest, creating chaos inside and out. Brewster, Bryan, and others are sent to the library for detention in the melee. There they find a friendly librarian who encourages them to dream. The book effectively captures both the promises and the challenges of school integration in the 1970s. Roth's rich earth tones and bold patterns perfectly anchor the book in its era, while the mixed-media and collage illustrations convey the urban environment. The text also stays true to its historical period, using the word "Negro" instead of "African American." This provides an opportunity for adults to explain how and why language evolves as society changes. An author's note provides a factual overview of this era. Michelson also explains here that he wrote the story long before Barack Obama was elected president, and that he never expected such a historic event to become a reality in his lifetime."Mary Landrum, Lexington Public Library, KY" Copyright 2010 Media Source Inc.
Brewster, who is African American, shares his experience starting first grade at a white school. The book's shortcomings (e.g., the story's setting--1970s, during forced busing--isn't initially clear) are secondary to its virtues, which include a subplot about how children develop racist attitudes and dashing illustrations reminiscent of Ezra Jack Keats's work.

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