Thursday, November 19, 2009

National Book Award Winners Announced!

And the winner for the National Book Award for Young People's Literature is...Philip Hoose's Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice!

Now, I bet most of you are wondering, "Who the heck is Claudette Colvin?" Before I read the book, I wondered that as well. But now, having read the book I can confidently tell you this...

Over a year before Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a city bus in Montgomery, Alabama, it was fifteen-year-old Claudette Colvin who sparked the Civil Rights movement in Montgomery by refusing to give up her seat. Claudette made up her mind that she was sick of being a second-class citizen, and one afternoon, while riding the bus home from school, she took action by refusing to give up her seat. Police were called and she was physically removed from the bus and arrested. She hoped the black community would gather around her, but they weren't yet ready. Many didn't understand why she couldn't just keep quiet and "follow the rules." But she'd made up her mind, and she fought for her rights, standing trial and serving as a plaintiff in the landmark case of Browder v. Gayle, which ended segregation of city buses.

In telling Colvin's story, Hoose ensures that this otherwise mostly unknown story of courage and perseverance finally has a place in the history of Civil Rights. As I read, I found myself alternately amazed by Claudette's story and astonished by my lack of knowledge about her role in ending the segregation of Montgomery's city buses. I kept asking myself "How could I not have known about this?" Complete with plenty of photographs, newspaper clippings, interviews with Miss Colvin and others, and plenty of context,Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice is a truly amazing work. The compelling narrative (including Claudette's own words), extensive notes and suggestions for further reading make this a book perfect for the inquisitive middle or high schooler or for class research.

Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice is a nominee for the Cybils Middle Grade/Young Adult Nonfiction category.

by Phillip Hoose
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $19.95
Copy borrowed from my local library.

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