Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Viola Desmond Won't Be Budged

Viola Desmond Won't Be Budged

Jody Nyasha Warner
Illustrator:  Richard Ridnicki 
Nonfiction Picture Book
For ages 6 to 8
Groundwood Books, 2010   ISBN: 978-0888997791

Viola Desmond was a successful business woman who ran her own beauty parlor. One day she was driving to a meeting when her car broke down. She managed to get her car to New Glasgow, Nova Scotia where a mechanic at a local garage promised to get her car fixed. While she waited, Viola decided to go to the local theatre to watch a movie.

Viola bought her ticket and then she sat down. It wasn’t long before the usher came along to tell her that she needed to move to a balcony seat. It was 1946, and at that time many of the movie theatres in Canada were segregated. Viola was happy to pay the extra fee so that she could sit where she wanted, but she was told that she had to sit in the balcony with the other “black folks,” which Viola refused to do. For her pains Viola was arrested, put in jail, and later she was fined by a court. The judge did not want to hear about the fact that Viola was discriminated against, instead the focus of the trial was on the fact that Viola had not paid the correct amount.

This picture book tells the story of how one African Canadian woman fought against racial discrimination. Using the vernacular that Viola and her people would have used at in the 1940’s, the author gives her readers a compelling story that serves as a tribute to all African Canadians who did their part to protest racial discrimination in their country.