The Red Rose Box

The Red Rose Box

by Brenda Woods


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On her tenth birthday, Leah receives a surprise gift from glamorous Aunt Olivia, Mama's only sister, who lives in Los Angeles.  It is a red rose box.  Not many people in 1958 Louisiana have seen such a beautiful traveling case, covered with red roses, filled with jewelry, silk bedclothes, expensive soaps...and train tickets to California.  Soon after, Leah and her sister, Ruth, find themselves in Hollywood, far away from cotton fields and Jim Crow laws.  To Leah, California feels like freedom.  But when disaster strikes back home, Leah and Ruth have to stay with Aunt Olivia permanently.  Will freedom ever feel like home?

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780142501511
Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date: 12/29/2003
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 144
Sales rank: 354,293
Product dimensions: 5.08(w) x 7.76(h) x 0.38(d)
Lexile: 830L (what's this?)
Age Range: 8 - 12 Years

About the Author

Brenda Woods was born in Ohio, grew up in Southern California, and attended California State University, Northridge. Her award-winning books for young readers include The Blossoming Universe of Violet Diamond (a CCBC choice and a Kirkus Reviews Best Book); the Coretta Scott King Honor winner The Red Rose Box; the ALAN Pick Saint Louis Armstrong Beach; and VOYA Top Shelf Fiction selection Emako Blue. Woods’s numerous awards and honors include the Judy Lopez Memorial Book Award, the FOCAL International Award, and the ILA Children’s Choice Young Adult Fiction Award. She lives in the Los Angeles area. To learn more, visit

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"A timeless universal tale of young girl's road to maturity. An impressive debut." -Kirkus Reviews

Customer Reviews

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The Red Rose Box 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really liked the book. This book was very interesting. The inly partni dont likenabout the book is that the ending leaves you in suspense..
mariah2 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
¿The Red Rose Box¿ is a story about two African American sisters who end up having to move from rural and segregated Louisiana to Los Angeles. Leah Hopper and her sister Ruth take us on a journey of discrimination, loss, friendship, forgiveness, and dreams. Even though this is a fictional story, many people in our not too distant past had to deal with the discrimination, Jim Crow Laws, and lynchings that are talked about in this book. One day while having a conversation with her Aunt Olivia, Leah asks a rhetorical question about white people. ¿Why they gotta be afraid of us? They are the ones ridin horses at midnight, wearing hoods, hangin people from trees, spittin at us while we walk down the road like we don¿t have no souls.¿ Real people had to live through real situations similar to the ones described in this book, and may have even had thoughts similar to Leah¿s. This story should be read by children of all races to learn about the evils of discrimination and how people can overcome the worst of situations.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This story talks about how a little girl learns about her father that had died was black and her mom who is white. Kids at her school talk about her and her family. She does not about her gandparents. She never met them since she was born
Ali_gator45 More than 1 year ago
o Red Rose Box setting is in the 1950's when the south was still living in segregation. The story is about a 10-year-old girl named Leah Hopper and her life struggles that she must deal with. One day Leah's family goes to Las Angeles to see her Aunt Olivia, while being there Leah feels as though she finally understands the true meaning of freedom. She is truly shocked and in awe by the way the other half of the world is living, and this gives her hope into becoming somebody important someday. Leah’s aspirations to become a prominent figure in society are crushed one day when a horrible thing occurs. Leah was left puzzled about how to go on with her life. Leah's constantly strives to fit in and be successful in this new world. This story really models how everything can be set one day and then turn upside down the next. Leah really matured trying to recover from previous events. I would recommend this to Grades 4-6.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
jrhelwig More than 1 year ago
I have never known what it is like to be a young African American female living in the segregated south in 1953; however Brenda Woods gives the readers of The Red Rose Box the feeling as if they are there with the main character Leah Hopper. The Red Rose Box shows the journey young Leah Hopper goes through as she moves from a poor family in Sulpher, LA to a non-segregated Los Angeles, California. This story is told from first person by a ten year old girl Leah. Leah's innocence and persistence throughout the book brings new light to the journey a young girl goes through as her body changes and she moves from one cultural setting to the complete opposite. Leah's sister who is also her best friend, Ruth joins Leah on her journey of growth and lean on each other throughout the book. Leah receives a package from her Aunt Olivia for her tenth birthday, a Red Rose Box. Inside the box there are all sorts of gifts that a young girl would love to have such as a real watch and costume jewelry that looked real. Leah uses this box to hold her most important items and she keeps it locked and hidden away from her mother. Leah, Ruth, her mother and her gramma go to visit her Aunt Olivia in Los Angeles. They have a nice visit and see that Los Angeles is not segregated like Sulpher. Leah is surprised by the fact that they can go into stores where whites are and drink out of the same drinking fountains. After they return home Leah's mother receives a letter from Aunt Olivia to ask them to go to New York City with her. Leah's mother, Rita, allows Leah and Ruth to go to New York with Aunt Olivia. Rita cannot go because she needs to stay in Sulpher and take care of Miss Lilly. While in New York City a hurricane hits Sulpher and kills their parents and most others in the town. Gramma and her friend are saved. After this disaster, Ruth and Leah have to live with their Aunt Olivia in Los Angeles. This is a major culture shock for girls who used to walk barefoot to a one room school house, help their mom with Miss Lilly's laundry and play simple games with their friends. In Los Angeles the girls wear new clothes and nice shoes to a bigger school. There is no sign of the racial prejudice that they are used to from growing up in Sulpher. They are able to be friends with children of other nationalities and Leah has a crush on the neighbor boy, Gilbert Martinez, who is Hispanic. After a visit from her gramma Leah is finally starting to come to peace with her parents' death. By the end of the book Leah Hopper has matured and gone through major changes in her life and has shown strength and persistence time after time. Surprisingly this is Brenda Woods' first novel. She has written other short stories and screen plays however she seems to write novels so naturally. Throughout the book I could feel myself with Leah and her family as they moved from place to place. This is a great book suggested for 9-12 year olds. This is a great book showing the struggles young women went through in the segregated south and also the struggles young women today face.
Bagpiper05 More than 1 year ago
The Red Rose Box by Brenda Woods is a story of two southern girls from Sulphur, Louisiana that dream of living in a world with no segregation laws. The main character named Leah Jean Hopper and her sister Ruth want to leave Sulphur and know what true freedom is all about. On Leah's 11th birthday she receives a box with a red rose on it. The box is from her Aunt Olivia that lives in Los Angeles. Leah and her family visit aunt Olivia in Los Angeles and she discovers a new and wonderful place with no segregation. Leah really notices the difference when she returns to Sulphur and can't do the same things in Louisiana that she did in California. Her aunt Olivia invites Leah and Ruth to New York, but while their she suffers a horrible loss. Her mother and father are killed in a hurricane. After that she lives with her aunt and uncle and learns to live on after her loss of her family. I thought the story was very well written because it really made me feel for Leah and wanted her to succeed and rise above the segregation. The story had a great sense to add how the troubles of the segregated south was really hard for African Americans and how they dealt with it. Leah and Ruth wanted to leave desperately, but after her parents died Leah wanted to return to what felt normal. Great way to show children that there are some things in life that you just need to move on from. This story has great examples of some difficult topics for older elementary children and middle school students to read about including death, acceptance, and race. Overall I would recommend this book for readers trying to gain an insight on how life was for young African Americans during the civil rights. It can really give you as a reader a different perspective on how tough life was for African Americans in the segregated south.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
AndyG More than 1 year ago
This book revolves around the main characters, Leah and Ruth, who are sisters that live with their family in Sulphur, Louisiana. They are a typical southern family who has a husband that travels for work while the women stay home to clean and cook. Soon enough, Leah receives a box decorated with roses for her birthday from her Aunt Olivia in California containing fine goods and four train tickets. The family, excluding the husband, travels to Hollywood to enjoy the scenery. Shortly after returning, the girls are asked to go with their aunt and uncle to New York. Tragically, while staying their, a hurricane destroys the town, along with the family. Only the grandma and a relative survives. So, Leah and Ruth go back to California to begin their new lives in the city. Personally, I did not care too much to read through the entire book. The main turn off was the language that was used by the Southern characters of the story. It took me longer to understand many of the sentences. Other than this problem, the book told of many lessons that a person can learn during a lifetime. These lessons include the pain of loss, learning to adapt to a new environment, and the idea that the south used to be a very unpleasant place to be colored.