Title: Ruth and the Green Book
Author: Calvin Alexander Ramsey
Illustrator: Floyd Cooper
Publisher: Carolrhoda Books
Concepts: discrimination, racial inequality, social justice
Review: Ruth could barely contain her excitement. Her father had just purchased a 1952 Buick for his new job, and her parents planned to use it to visit Grandma in Alabama. It would take several days to drive from Chicago down south, and Ruth’s mom had spent a whole week cooking food for their trip. Ruth quickly discovered why they needed to pack so much of their own food: outside of the city, they encountered great difficultly in finding service stations, hotels, and restaurants that would serve African Americans.
Jim Crow laws in the south made it even more difficult to find establishments that catered to African Americans. Fortunately, an attendant at an Esso service station along the way sold them a copy of the Negro Motorist Green Book, a state-by-state guide to establishments that welcomed black customers. Ruth no longer needed to worry about having to sleep in the car, and she was even able to help her father find a service station when their car broke down.
With its poignant illustrations and unique plot, this book provides young readers with a lucid account of some of the indignities and hardships that African Americans had to endure as a result of the Jim Crow laws in the south and discriminatory practices across states. An informative afterword provides more details about the Green Book and its usefulness to African American businesspeople and travelers on the road.
Review by: Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children