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Home | LS5603 Children's and YA Literature | LS6643 Nonfiction for Children and YA
Through My Eyes

Through my eyes Bridges, Ruby. 1999. Through my eyes. New York: Scholastic Press. ISBN: 0590189239.

In her own words, Ruby Bridges recounts the year that she became a national symbol by being one of the first black children to integrate the New Orleans public schools. Violent protestors, a defiant school system, and dogged media coverage surrounded the entire event, and Bridges was just a first grade child, mostly unaware of the reason for the chaos. For the first time, Bridges tells the story of the saga from her own perspective.

Bridges's voice comes through the text as she lays out her story in simple text that neither overly glamorizes nor glosses over reality. The text is well organized into chronological bits that flow well into each other. Each new section is announced to the reader with a subject heading such as "The First Day at William Franz." (Bridges, p.18) Bridges begins the text with a preface that gives readers an overview of the political and social climate during this time. She then starts her own story by telling of her birth, and the story continues all the way up until her life at the present. Bridges weaves historical details and personal reflections and emotions seamlessly, and they combine to create a powerful version of this famous story that has not been told until now. As Carter states in her review in Horn Book Magazine, "Norman Rockwell painted her, John Steinbeck wrote about her, and Robert Coles worked with her. But Bridges needs no intermediaries to cloud the lens of her story; she relates it far more powerfully than anyone else to date. After establishing a historical context, Bridges lets her childhood memories rather than her adult perceptions, drive the narrative: 'That whole first day, my mother and I just sat and waited. We didn't talk to anybody. I remember watching a big, round clock on the wall. When it was 3:00 and time to go home, I was glad. I had thought my new school would be hard, but the first day was easy.' (Bridges, p.18) In contrast to Coles's message-laden biography (The Story of Ruby Bridges, 1994), where Ruby moves from child to sain in a mere thrity-two pages, here she emerges as an understandable and sympathetic young girl."

This sixty-four page book combines chunks of text by Bridges with pictures from the times and interviews and articles compiled and edited by Margo Lundell. Bridges's text is the predominant feature of this powerful book. The pictures include the well-documented event of Bridges's integration of William Franz Elementary and also other relevant pictures such as the "Little Rock Nine" (Bridges, p.5) and Rockwell's portrait of Bridges. (Bridges, p.25)  Portraits of several people are also included, such as John Steinbeck, Evelyn Roosevelt, and Bridges's teacher, Mrs. Henry. (Bridges, p.25, p.37, and p.41) The pictures differ in size, but often take up almost half of each double page spread, although some are smaller. Each photo is explained by a caption. The articles and interview compiled by Lundell are included at the bottoms of the pages, and each is set apart by being placed on a tan background. The text and headings are typed in a serif font, and the lines of text have ample space between them. The book includes a concluding section that is titled "Let Me Bring You Up to Date" (Bridges, p.56), and this tells of Ruby's current project of helping inner-city schools and provides an address for further information. Photo credits are included on pages 63 and 64. There are no further access features, such as a bibliography, index, glossary, or list for further reading.

Green calls this book a "superb read-aloud," and it will be a valuable addition to any collection. It tells this oft recounted story from Bridges's unique perspective, and it will only enhance any unit of study on relevant topics such as civil rights or Black History Month.

Carter, Betty. 2000. Book reviews: Nonfiction. Horn Book Magazine 76(1). In EBSCOHost (database online). Available from  Accessed 28 March 2005.

Coles, Robert. 1995. The story of Ruby Bridges. Ill. by George Ford. New York: Scholastic Press. ISBN: 0590572814.

Green, Dawn G. 2000. Reviews: Biography. Book Report 18(5). In EBSCOHost (database online). Available from  Accessed 28 March 2005.

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Holly S.
Graduate Student at Texas Woman's University