Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 4
What did you like about the book? In this tiny book (4” x 6”) Ruby Bridges addresses a heartfelt letter to the children of America. The small size and sparse prose makes it a natural fit for young students who want to read Ms. Bridges own reflections on her historic integration of the William Frantz Elementary School in New Orleans and her thoughts about the ongoing fight for civil rights. Small black and white photos opposite the text illuminate some of her story; for example, a photo of her father Abon Bridges sitting beside young Ruby as she does homework and then on the next page, in his Army uniform, as she talks about how he was her hero. Helpful captions accompany all the photographs, giving a date and describing what we’re looking at: the 1963 March on Washington, BLM protesters, and Ruby’s own late son Craig Hall, killed in a shooting in 2005. The front of the book shows a detail from the famous Norman Rockwell painting, “The Problem We All Live With.” The book is meant as a call to action for young people to speak up against injustice and its message is heartfelt and powerful.
Anything you didn’t like about it? Some of the earlier photos lack sharpness which students used to digital images may find puzzling. Other photos needed more explanation than was provided through the captions. For example, a disturbing photograph of white protesters carrying what’s described as a black baby doll in a coffin from 1960 — to me the doll looked white and I didn’t understand if Ruby had seen this gruesome display as a child. Another photo shows Ruby in 1961 with white children, who are described as new friends, even though earlier in the book, we are told that she was the only child in her class — I was confused.
To whom would you recommend this book? There are really a lot of Ruby Bridges books, including two written earlier by Bridges herself: Through My Eyes (1999) and Ruby Bridges Goes to School, an introductory reader published in 2009. For a student interested in this unique story of integration, I would definitely recommend TME, with its fine photographs and nuanced explanations, while the latter is a great choice for a beginning reader. This newer offering is more of a reflection and could be interesting to those of a philosophical bent, who want to learn about Ms. Bridge’s ongoing work with young people.
Who should buy this book? Public libraries
Where would you shelve it? Biography
Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? If you need more on Ruby Bridges, you should check out this newest offering.
Reviewer: Susan Harari, Keefe Library, Boston Latin School, Boston, MA
Date of review: January 2, 2020