“Rosa,” the highly acclaimed book written by Virginia Tech’s University Distinguished Professor of English Nikki Giovanni, climbed to as high as number three in The New York Times Children’s Book List.

“Rosa,” published by Henry Holt and Company and vibrantly illustrated by Bryan Collier, tells the story of Rosa Parks, a seamstress from Montgomery, Ala., who refused to give up her seat on a bus. Her action sparked protests and ignited the Civil Rights Movement.

Giovanni’s book has been well received by the media, librarians, and parents. “Rosa” has won the Coretta Scott King award for best illustration and also earned a Caldecott Honor

What they’re saying about “Rosa”

The TIME magazine bonus section in December proclaimed, “In light of Parks’ death at age 92 in October, this book seems especially timely. But its message of quiet courage is timeless.”

The February edition of Parents magazine also applauded the book, saying “In honor of Black history month, be sure to read Rosa to your family. It… is the perfect way to introduce little ones to the late, great civil-rights heroine.”

“Purposeful in its telling, this is a handsome and thought-provoking introduction to these watershed acts of civil disobedience,” noted Margaret Bush for the School Library Journal.

Hazel Rochman, of the American Library Association said in her review, “The history comes clear in the astonishing combination of the personal and the political.”

Notes from Nikki…

In an early December interview with National Public Radio’s Ed Gordon, Giovanni discussed how she wanted to portray Parks, a woman she had known personally for 24 years.

“I wanted to share the woman that I had the privilege of knowing with younger people. Mrs. Parks was an icon, and when you’ve become iconic, you’re bigger than life. I wanted to show that she was an ordinary woman who did an extraordinary thing,” said Giovanni.

“Who would have thought that a seamstress from Montgomery, Alabama, would be the first woman in the United States to lay in state,” said Giovanni. “It’s so wonderful that she’s the only non-violent person. Of the 30 people who have lain in state since the civil war, 29 have been presidents, military men or policemen – and Mrs. Parks.”

“I was writing a poem for The New York Times on Mrs. Parks and the first line of it says, ‘The sad thing about your death is you missed your funeral.’ I think she would have loved seeing herself lying in the Rotunda.”

”It’s still easier to tell kids the truth than have them grow up in ignorance,” Giovanni recently told the Roanoke Times. “Segregation was a national shame. It has to be dealt with.”

The New York Times Children’s Book List can be found here.