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Viola Desmond Won't Be Budged Hardcover – Sep 1 2010
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Quill & Quire
One day in 1946, hair salon owner Viola Desmond’s car broke down in the town of New Glasgow, Nova Scotia. To pass the time while it was being fixed, she went to the movies, only to be told she had to move from her main floor seat to the balcony – the theatre was racially segregated, and she, a black woman, could not sit among the white patrons. Desmond refused to move and ended up spending the night in jail. Her story and ensuing legal battle angered and inspired the province’s black community, and became the catalyst for protests that eventually resulted in racial segregation becoming illegal.
Jody Nyasha Warner and Richard Rudnicki’s rendering of Desmond’s tale is a wonderful marriage of text and image. Warner uses a warm oral storytelling voice that invites the reader to “come on here, listen in close” to the tale of a woman who “sat down for her rights.” Rudnicki’s bright illustrations capture the changing emotions on Viola’s face while supplying details of architecture and fashion that bring the period vividly to life.
Although we might wish to hear more of Viola’s own voice, her bravery in the face of injustice is skilfully depicted, and an afterword provides more details about African-Canadian history.
...the author of the children's book 'Viola Desmond Won't be Budged!' knows why she wanted to write the Halifax businesswoman's story... "There's not much that's there that's Canadian and this is such a great story." (Monica Graham The Chronicle-Herald 2010-08-15)
...vibrant... (Canadian Teacher Magazine 2010-11-01)
Plain speech in the vernacular of the time and predominantly red-hued acrylic paintings that seem imbued with their subject's passion combine to great effect in this important but not-well-known piece of Canadian history. (Susan Perren Globe and Mail 2010-09-24)
Varying perspectives heighten the emotional intensity, as do the excellent layout and design. This unique offering will be of particular value when studying women's or black history. (Lucinda Snyder Whitehurst School Library Journal 2010-12-01)
...warm and engaging... (Rosalie MacEachern New Glasgow News 2010-11-09)
Desmond’s story should prove eye-opening to readers whose civil rights references are limited to American figures. (Publishers Weekly 2010-10-11)
This book is a powerful discussion starter on racism. (Linda Ludke Papertigers.org 2010-01-12)
Rudnicki's vivid, dramatic art intensifies the danger that Desmond's stubborn determination brought her, and it lends itself well to the warm recounting of the unnamed narrator. (Courtney Jones Booklist 2010-11-15)
From the first page, Viola Desmond Won't be Budged! hooks the reader...an engaging delight to read. (Crystal Sutherland CM Magazine 2010-09-03)
Using a cadenced style that echoes the oral tradition of African-Canadians, Warner recounts the story... (Kirkus Reviews 2010-10-01)
This carefully-researched book provides young learners with an informative look at racial segregation in Canada and a pivotal event in the civil rights movement. (Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children 2011-02-22)
...impressive... (Evelyn C. White Vancouver Sun 2011-02-21)
...a compelling story... (Marya Jansen-Gruber Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews 2011-03-21)
Top Customer Reviews
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The story is told in a folksy, oral-history tradition, with the narrator speaking directly to the audience, drawing us into this compelling story of racism and courage. Viola, owner of a beauty salon, is forced to stop in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia when her car breaks down. To pass the time, she decides to stop at the local movie theatre. She finds the perfect seat, down in front, and before she can settle in to enjoy the movie, an usher tells her she has to go to the balcony. When she refuses, "They took Viola to jail. Can you believe it?" After being fined $20 (a lot of money back then) for "refusing to pay the proper ticket price," she was released. The judge wouldn't listen when she said she was happy to pay for a downstairs ticket.
Viola and black community groups decided not to put up with this segregationist treatment, and appealed her case. Although the appeal was unsuccessful, the author points out that Viola's fight galvanized the fight against segregation in Canada, which was outlawed in the late 1950's.
Viola Desmond Won't Be Budged! is the first book of Jody Nyasha Warner, a writer, editor, and former librarian who is particularly interested in African Canadian history. The strikingly colorful acrylic illustrations by Canadian illustrator Richard Rudnicki add significantly to the story; on the publisher's webpage, you can click inside to see a number of two-page spreads from the book. I particularly liked the artist's use of hot colors such as orange, red, and yellow, which lend an almost expressionistic color palette, enhancing the emotion of the story.
The book includes an afterword which provides a brief, but fascinating, glimpse of African Canadian history, placing Viola's story in some context and also providing some biographical material on this Canadian civil rights leader. The author also provides a few suggestions for additional reading on African Canadian history.
This book would be a terrific addition to school library collections, and would be an excellent choice to read during African-American history month, giving students some insights into similar struggles that went on among our neighbors to the North.
This carefully-researched book provides young learners with an informative look at racial segregation in Canada and a pivotal event in the civil rights movement. Interestingly, the book's 2010 publication coincided with a formal apology from Nova Scotia's government and a pardon of the charge against her, the first posthumous free pardon ever granted in Canada. Parents and teachers seeking new resources to teach about discrimination and social justice can use this book to add both an international dimension and a gender perspective to the lesson.