Review of I Am Ruby Bridges

I Am Ruby BridgesI Am Ruby Bridges
by Ruby Bridges ; illus. by Nikkolas Smith
Primary     Orchard/Scholastic    48 pp.       g
9/22     978-1-338-75388-2     $18.99
e-book ed.  978-1-338-89321-2    $11.99

“When I grow up, my work will be precious, I will be a bridge.” Bridges, known for her brave work in desegregating a Louisiana school at the age of six, here recounts her monumental entry into William Frantz Elementary as she remembers experiencing it as a child. This includes her excitement about testing into a new school that would provide “better opportunities” and her confusion about why four white men needed to drive her there. Her impressions of the noisy (white) adults screaming as she entered the building are innocent until she realizes she is the only student, and the only Black person inside. In this worthwhile and unique introduction to the civil rights era, Bridges shares memories of optimism and hope, told from a child’s point of view that allows for an intimate connection with primary readers. Smith’s illustrations, often sweeping double-page spreads, are equal parts immediate, metaphorical (at one point Ruby’s fingers are positioned as an actual bridge), and informative. Back matter includes author and illustrator notes and a glossary, whose terms are highlighted in red throughout the story.

From the November/December 2022 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

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