Walking To The Bus Rider Blues by Harriette Gillem Robinet

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It is June, 1956 in Montgomery, Alabama.

African-Americans are boycotting the bus company that had their neighbor, Mrs. Rosa Parks, arrested for refusing to give up her seat to a white man. Until they can sit wherever they wish on the bus, African-Americans are refusing to ride. They are walking.

For Alfa Merryfield, walking can be a problem. When he takes the bus he avoids the white boys who steal his pay for working in Mr. Greendale's grocery store. Losing the money is a disaster. He and his sister and his great-grandmother, who live together, need money to rent their two-room house. When Alfa loses his pay, they are short on the rent. To make matters worse, someone is stealing the money they save from where they hide it, and they, themselves, are accused of stealing two thousand dollars from a house where their grandmother is a cleaning woman.

Alfa wants to be a doctor and uses the scientific method to solve their theft problems. Alfa and his sister work hard to pay the rent and to find the thieves.

Alfa has learned, from the bus boycott and its leaders, including Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., to "walk the walk and talk the talk" in the spirit of nonviolence, and to respect himself and his dreams. As Alfa's own "Bus-Rider Blues" says about the world he knows: "It ain't never ever going to be the same."


About Harriette Gillem Robinet

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Harriette Gillem Robinet was born and raised in Washington, D.C., graduated from the College of New Rochelle in New Rochelle, New York, and completed graduate studies in microbiology at Catholic University, Washington, D.C. As part of her research, she visited Montgomery, Alabama, in the same week of June that this story occurs, but forty-one years later. The natural beauty of Montgomery -- the Alabama River, magnolia and crepe myrtle trees, holly bushes, rolling hills -- impressed her. The warm friendliness of people touched her heart. Montgomery was a grand setting for the first steps in the glorious civil rights struggle. She and her husband, McLouis Robinet, live in Oak Park, Illinois, and have six adult children and four grandchildren. She is the author of several books about young African-Americans in historical settings, including Forty Acres and Maybe a Mule, winner of the Scott O'Dell Award.
Published May 1, 2000 by Atheneum. 128 pages
Genres: Travel, Children's Books, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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Social issues, civil-rights history, adventure, and mystery are all skillfully combined in this gripping story of 12-year-old Alfa Merryfield, his sister Zinnia, and their great-grandmother Lydia.

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Publishers Weekly

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PW has integrated its print and digital subscriptions, offering exciting new benefits to subscribers, who are now entitled to both the print edition and the digital editions of PW (online or via our app).

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Publishers Weekly

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A few important threads remain only partially explored, such as the loan shark who holds a connection to both the accusing white family and Alfa and Zinnia's ""phantom mother,"" and some inconsistencies come through in Mr. Greendale's and Zinnia's characters.

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