‘I Am Rosa Parks’ by Brad Meltzer: An ‘Ordinary People Change the World’ book


Rating: 5 stars

Brad Meltzer stretches his artistic talent with the newest addition to the “Ordinary People Change the World” series, “I Am Rosa Parks.”

Meltzer may be an excellent writer of adult thrillers, but he also writes excellent children’s books. Both of the previous books in the series, “I Am Abraham Lincoln” and “I Am Amelia Earhart,” are excellent biographies of seemingly ordinary people who ended up changing the world.

The story of Rosa Parks is well known, but Meltzer brings new information that manages to be both interesting and compelling.

Part of Rosa’s inner strength came from her parents, who Meltzer says taught her to respect herself and to expect respect from others. Readers see the difference in white and “colored” schools, the different drinking fountains and elevators. I never knew that Rosa had had another harsh encounter on a bus when she couldn’t get on the bus by the back door so she went through the front. The hostile white bus driver threw her off. Ironically, it was the very same white bus driver who had her arrested years later when she refused to give up her seat to a white person.

The illustrations by Christopher Eliopoulos perfectly complement the text. They are colorful but simple. Rosa has the same cartoonish large head that both Abraham Lincoln and Amelia Earhart sported in the previous biographies.

Meltzer created this series because, “… I was tired of my daughter thinking that reality TV stars and and loud-mouthed sports players were heroes. I tell my kids all the time: That’s fame. Fame is different than being a hero. I wanted my kids to see real heroes … For that reason, each book tells the story of the heroes when THEY were kids.”

Meltzer really achieves his goal. Readers see the the determination in these heroes even as kids. And each book has its own message.

It’s a book, and a series, that is indispensable for classrooms from second grade through fourth or even fifth. These books give nonfiction information in an easy-to-access manner that kids will enjoy reading. And nonfiction books that are both fascinating and inspiring are priceless.

Why five stars? There are too few nonfiction books that are fun and fascinating aimed at this age group.

Please note: This review is based on the final hardcover book provided by the publisher, Dial, for review purposes.