Originally created 11/11/05

Family briefs



'The Bus Ride'

NEW YORK - Many people were touched by Rosa Parks' life and death but their feelings might be hard to explain to children who never lived through segregation. "The Bus Ride That Changed History: The Story of Rosa Parks" (Houghton Mifflin) aims to explain Parks' place in U.S. history and in the hearts of its citizens in terms kids will understand.

The focus on each page recounts history: There are examples of racially separate water fountains and benches, and how white bus drivers would sometimes drive away after a black would-be passenger paid but before he got on.

Also on each page is a running dialogue, done in a cartoon style, between contemporary kids - white and black - who have questions and answers about why things were done the way they were.

Adults probably could learn something, too. While the story of Parks refusing to give up her seat to a white man on a public bus is well known, some of the details that followed are not necessarily common knowledge.

"The Bus Ride" says that lawyers Fred Gray and Charles Langford didn't defend their client because they wanted her to be found guilty so they could take the case to the Supreme Court.

"Of course! Only the Supreme Court can overturn segregation laws," one cartoon girl says to the others.

The book was published in September, though Parks' death last month certainly makes it a timely title.

The book's author Pamela Duncan Edwards has written more than 20 children's books and illustrator Danny Shanahan is a cartoonist for The New Yorker.

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Neighborhood tunes

NEW YORK - Mister Rogers' music is coming to your neighborhood.

"Songs from the Neighborhood" is a musical tribute to the music written and sung by the late Fred Rogers on his classic TV show. Twelve artists, including Amy Grant, CeCe Winans, Crystal Gayle, Jon Secada, Roberta Flack and Donna Summer, sing on the CD. There also is a complementary "making of" music DVD.

Two years after his death, Rogers remains a popular figure with both today's parents and their children who watch "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood" in reruns. His red cardigan sweater hangs in the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History in Washington.

The new CD was produced by Memory Lane Syndication and is being distributed by Nostalgia Ventures. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to the Fred Rogers Fund at Family Communications Inc.

Helpful toys

NEW YORK - No matter how often parents preach to their children that it's better to give than to receive, most children probably do, in fact, enjoy getting presents more.

At least parents can hope they're gracious about it.

One toy that might teach a lesson about manners are the plush dolls of "The Koala Brothers." Frank and Buster will be familiar to young TV watchers from their Playhouse Disney show. So will their polite phrases that also encourage kindness and helping others.

Frank tells children, "A good friend is always there to help," while Buster says, "Helping children is what I like to do. Do you need help?"

The toys are made by Fisher-Price.