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Ruth and the Green Book

by Calvin Alexander Ramsey


Reviews

Publishers Weekly
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

At the core of this expressively illustrated fusion of fact and fiction is The Negro Motorist Green Book, first published in 1936, which listed hotels, restaurants, and other businesses that would serve African-Americans during an era when many would not. Charged with emotion, playwright Ramsey's story opens on an upbeat note, with Ruth and her parents embarking on a cross-country trip in their new 1952 Buick, traveling from Chicago to Grandma's home in Alabama. The family's spirits plummet when they are turned away from a service station restroom and a hotel, and see "White Only" signs in restaurant windows ("It hurt my feelings to be so unwelcome," says Ruth). However, a copy of the Green Book they purchase soon puts them in contact with friendly, helpful people all along the way. A sense of resiliency courses through Cooper's (Back of the Bus) filmy illustrations-beatific portraits of the Esso worker who sells the family their Green Book and the owner of a "tourist home" where the family spends the night radiate strength, kindness, and hope for a better future. Ages 7-11. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


School Library Journal
(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Gr 1-4-Ruth's father just bought a beautiful new 1952 Buick, making it a big day for this African-American family. They are going from Chicago to Alabama to visit Grandma. Ruth is very excited to be traveling, but the family encounters "whites only" restrooms, hotels, and restaurants along the way. It's very discouraging and sometimes scary, but they learn that some friendly faces may be found at local Esso stations, which are among the few franchises open to black businessmen. At a station near the Georgia border, they are introduced to Victor H. Green's The Negro Motorist Green Book, an early AAA guidebook of sorts that listed establishments or homes that would serve African Americans-be it for general services, housing, or meals. Ruth eventually becomes the Green Book specialist in the family, helping to guide them to an auto-repair shop or an inn that would welcome them. But, the best part of the trip is finally arriving at Grandma's, as illustrated by the loving expressions on all faces. A one-page concluding summary discusses the importance of The Green Book, which was in use from 1936-1964, when the Civil Rights Act was finally signed, banning racial discrimination. The realistic illustrations are done in oil wash on board, a self-described "subtractive process." The picture is painted, then erased to "paint" the final product. Overall, there is a sepialike quality to the art, giving the impression of gazing at old color photos. This is an important addition to picture book collections, useful as a discussion-starter on Civil Rights or as a stand-alone story.-Roxanne Burg, Orange County Public Library, CA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

In this powerful picture book, Atlanta playwright Ramsey tells a 1950s story from unknown pages in African American history. Cooper's glowing, unframed, sepia-toned artwork delivers a strong sense of the period from a child's viewpoint. Driving with her parents from Chicago to Grandma's house in Alabama, Ruth is excited until the family is refused access to the restroom at a service station. They face more bitter realities of segregation when they sleep in the car because they are turned away from hotels. The double-page spreads show the hurt, anger, and scariness of the No Vacancy signs, but words and images also capture moments of peace, as Ruth sings and feels safe with her loving parents as they drive across the country. Then they are welcomed at an Esso station, where they get a copy of the pamphlet called The Negro Motorist Green Book, which lists places where black people are welcome. A joyful reunion with Grandma brings the book to a warm close. With a long final note about The Green Book, this is a compelling addition to U.S. history offerings.--Rochman, Hazel Copyright 2010 Booklist


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