A Marvelous Picture Book!


Back of the Bus is a relatively new book (published 2010) by Aaron Reynolds and illustrated by Floyd Cooper. It was selected as one of the American Library Association’s Notable Children’s Books of 2011.

The book tells the story of Rosa Parks through the eyes of a young boy sitting behind her on the bus. He sits with his mom on the bus as “Mrs. Parks from the tailor shop” refuses to give up her seat.

“She don’t belong up front like that,
and them folks all know it.
But she’s sittin’ right there,
her eyes all fierce like a lightnin’ storm
like maybe she does belong up there.
And I start thinkin’ maybe she does too.”

Since the story is told from a child’s perspective, it makes the book a great way to introduce

Rosa Parks and the Civil Rights Movement to
children in a way that is relatable and easy to understand.
The suggested reading level for this book is ages 4-8
Younger readers will love the story the boy tells.
Older readers will see a deeper meaning in the book:
At the beginning of the story, the boy rolls a marble down the floor of the bus, and Mrs. Parks smiles and rolls it back to him. His mother tells him to put the marble away. When the bus does not move for 15 minutes because the driver has called the police, the boy takes the marble back out and plays with it again. Again, his mother tells him to put it away. When Rosa Parks is arrested, the boy notices something different about his mother– “she’s got Mrs. Parks’ lightnin’-storm eyes now.” And, because of his mother and Rosa Parks, the boy finds strength. He takes the marble out of his pocket, and holds it up to the light, “right out in the open” and “(the marble) shines all brown and golden in the sunlight, like it’s smilin’, I think.
‘Cuz it ain’t gotta hide no more.”

The symbolism of the marble adds a dimension to this seemingly simple children’s book, and makes it enjoyable for not only young readers but also older students.

To go along with the great story are wonderful oil painting illustrations by Floyd Cooper which are not only pretty pictures to look at, but also captivating depictions of the scenes described in the text and portraits of the characters. The beautiful two page illustration spreads capture the atmosphere and the emotions of the scenes. To see more of Floyd Cooper’s books, and even his own original art, click here.

For more details on the book you can view it on amazon!
For more information about the author Aaron Reynolds, visit his website
Hope you enjoy this truly marvelous picture book!

One response »

  1. Annie! I really appreciate all the hard work you put into this post. Especially the inclusion of an actual historical photo of Rosa Parks. I also like the fact that you included a link to Reynolds website for those who want for information. Wonderful job, great in-depth review!

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