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Viola Desmond Won't Be Budged

Written by Jody Nyasha Warner

Illustrated by Richard Rudnicki

  • 32 Pages
  • 9780888997791
  • 10" x 8"
  • Reading age from 5 to 9
  • JUVENILE NONFICTION / History / Canada / Post-Confederation (1867-)
  • JUVENILE NONFICTION / Social Situations / Prejudice & Racism


Publication Date September 01, 2010

Finalist for the 2011 Norma Fleck Award for Canadian Children's Non-Fiction

"On behalf of the Nova Scotia government, I sincerely apologize to Mrs. Viola Desmond’s family and to all African Nova Scotians for the racial discrimination she was subjected to by the justice system . . . We recognize today that the act for which Viola Desmond was arrested, was an act of courage, not an offence." -- Darrell Dexter, Premier of Nova Scotia, April 15, 2010

In Nova Scotia, in 1946, an usher in a movie theatre told Viola Desmond to move from her main floor seat up to the balcony. She refused to budge. Viola knew she was being asked to move because she was black. After all, she was the only black person downstairs. All the other black people were up in the balcony. In no time at all, the police arrived and took Viola to jail. The next day she was charged and fined, but she vowed to continue her struggle against such unfair rules. She refused to accept that being black meant she couldn't sit where she wanted.

Viola's determination gave strength and inspiration to her community at the time. She is an unsung hero of the North American struggle against injustice and racial discrimination whose story deserves to be widely known.

The African Canadian community in Nova Scotia is one of Canada's oldest and most established black communities. Despite their history and contributions to the province the people in this community have a long experience of racially based injustice.

Like Claudette Colvin and Rosa Parks, who many years later, in 1955, refused to give up their bus seats in Alabama, Desmond's act of refusal awakened people to the unacceptable nature of racism and began and process of bringing an end to racial segregation in Canada.

An afterword provides a glimpse of African Canadian history.

Short-listed for the SYRCA Shining Willow Award 2011

Selected for the Resource Links' Year's Best 2010

Long-listed for the Vancouver Children's Literature Roundtable Information Book Award 2011

Short-listed for the ReadBoston Best Read Aloud Book Award 2011

Short-listed for the Norma Fleck for Canadian Children's Non-Fiction 2011


Jody Nyasha Warner
Jody Nyasha Warner is a writer, editor and former librarian. She lives in Toronto with her two children.

Richard Rudnicki
Richard Rudnicki has illustrated several award-winning children's books. Viola Desmond Won't Be Budged! was a finalist for the Norma Fleck Award for Canadian Children's Non-Fiction, a finalist for the Mayor's Award for Excellence in Book Illustration (Halifax), and a finalist for the Silver Birch Award, and Gracie, the Public Gardens Duck won the Lillian Shepherd Memorial Award for Excellence in Illustration and was a finalist for the APMA Best Atlantic Published Book Award. Richard is well known for his paintings of Nova Scotia. He also teaches figure drawing and portraiture and gives school workshops. He lives in Halifax.


"...the author of the children's book 'Viola Desmond Won't be Budged!' knows why she wanted to write the Halifax businesswoman's story... "There's not much that's there that's Canadian and this is such a great story."" The Chronicle-Herald

"...vibrant..." Canadian Teacher Magazine

"Plain speech in the vernacular of the time and predominantly red-hued acrylic paintings that seem imbued with their subject's passion combine to great effect in this important but not-well-known piece of Canadian history." Globe and Mail

"Varying perspectives heighten the emotional intensity, as do the excellent layout and design. This unique offering will be of particular value when studying women's or black history." School Library Journal

"...warm and engaging..." New Glasgow News

"Desmond’s story should prove eye-opening to readers whose civil rights references are limited to American figures." Publishers Weekly

"This book is a powerful discussion starter on racism."

"Rudnicki's vivid, dramatic art intensifies the danger that Desmond's stubborn determination brought her, and it lends itself well to the warm recounting of the unnamed narrator." Booklist

"From the first page, Viola Desmond Won't be Budged! hooks the engaging delight to read." CM Magazine

"Using a cadenced style that echoes the oral tradition of African-Canadians, Warner recounts the story..." Kirkus Reviews

"This carefully-researched book provides young learners with an informative look at racial segregation in Canada and a pivotal event in the civil rights movement." Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children

"...impressive..." Vancouver Sun

"...a compelling story..." Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews