Hoose, Phillip M.. Claudette Colvin: twice toward justice. New York: Melanie Kroupa Books/Farrar Straus Giroux, 2009.
This book tells the story of one of the key unsung heroes during the Civil Rights movement. History has largely overlooked the story of Claudette Colvin, the fifteen year old girl that sparked a flurry of controversy in Montgomery, Alabama when she refused to give up her seat on the bus. Yes, before there was Rosa Parks, there was Claudette Colvin.
Hoose tells the story of Claudette, her checkered upbringing in the poorest of neighborhoods, her inspiration that led to the stance on the bus, her relationship with Rosa Parks and the events that caused her to be overlooked as a Civil Rights leader.
The story is laid out in a way to provide multiple accounts of what happened during this time. The author narrates the story with inserts of Claudette’s own words as she described the events that unfolded. Hoose compliments the accounts with original black and white photos, newspaper cut outs from the time and text boxes that define some of the people and events mentioned in the narration. The book is largely chronological beginning with Claudette as a child and moving into adulthood.
This is a difficult story to tell for multiple reasons. Claudette’s story opens the door to some of the political hierarchies present during the Civil Rights movement. Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr are widely revered for their tremendous work and advocacy during this time. The story of Claudette tells a different story, the story of a young girl that took a stand without political ties. A young black girl with very dark skin. A girl from a terrible neighborhood. A girl that became an unwed pregnant teenager. Already leery of her background, Civil Rights leaders turned their back on this courageous young teenager when she became pregnant. Even with such tough subject matter Hoose does an excellent job of remaining objective and telling the story through facts and accounts. The book closes with an extensive bibliography and reference notes broken down chapter by chapter as to where the information was obtained. This is a testament to the accuracy of the book. The author also explains how he came about the idea to write the story and how he came to interview Claudette.
This would be an excellent read for middle or high school students. The story of Claudette Colvin supplements history and has a remarkable ability to elicit critical thinking for young students.
“This inspiring title shows the incredible difference that a single young person can make.” —Starred, Booklist
“Inspiring.” —Kirkus Reviews
“Outstanding.” —Starred, School Library Journal
“Hoose reasserts her [Claudette Colvin] place in history with this vivid and dramatic account, complemented with photographs, sidebars, and liberal excerpts from interviews conducted with Colvin.” —Starred, The Horn Book
Phillip Hoose’s Official Website
Hey Little Ant Website – Phillip and Hannah Hoose
Video- Claudette Colin: Twice Towards Justice
Author, Phillip Hoose Explains Montgomery Bus Boycott at Portland, ME Schools