Jewell Parker Rhodes is the Piper Endowed Chair and founding artistic director of the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing at Arizona State University.
Ninth Ward, Rhodes’ first novel for young readers, was named a Coretta Scott King Honor Book, a Notable Book for a Global Society, and a Today show Al’s Book Club for Kids selection. Sugar was named a 2014 Jane Addams Book Award recipient (for books that engage children in thinking about peace, justice, world community and/or equality of the sexes and all races), as well as receiving many accolades and inclusions on state award lists. The upcoming Bayou Magic, (May 2015 from Little, Brown Books for Young Readers) completes Jewell’s ‘Louisiana Girls’ set.
You may learn more about Jewell at her website, jewellparkerrhodes.com
Twelve-year-old Lanesha lives in a tight-knit community in New Orleans’ Ninth Ward. She doesn’t have a fancy house like her uptown family or lots of friends like other kids on her street. But what she does have is Mama Ya-Ya, her fiercely loving caretaker, wise in the ways of the world and able to predict the future. So when Mama Ya-Ya’s visions show a powerful hurricane–Katrina–fast approaching, it’s up to Lanesha to call upon the hope and strength Mama Ya-Ya has given her to help them both survive the storm.
Ninth Ward is a celebration of resilience, love, family, and friendship, and a deeply emotional story of transformation (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, April 10, 2012).
Sugar shares the little-known experiences of Chinese laborers in the post-Civil War South. Captivated by this slice of American History that she wasn’t familiar with, Jewell found herself daydreaming about Chinese and African American cultures blending in Louisiana. The result is Sugar, a moving and powerful story of unlikely friendships and how they can change our lives forever.
The year is 1870, after slavery is abolished but when many African Americans still work the plantation fields, and ten-year-old Sugar has always dreamed of the world beyond the banks of the Mississippi River. She sees her chance when Chinese workers arrive at the plantation to help harvest the cane, and strives to bridge the cultural gap and bring her community together. As she did in the Coretta Scott King Honor book, Ninth Ward, Jewell Parker Rhodes brings history to life with beautiful storytelling and strong, spirited characters (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, June 3, 2014).
It’s Maddy’s turn to have a bayou summer. At first she misses life back home in the city, but soon she grows to love everything about her new surroundings — the glimmering fireflies, the glorious landscape, and something else, deep within the water, that only Maddy sees. Could it be a mermaid? As her grandmother shares wisdom about sayings and signs, Maddy realizes she may be the only sibling to carry on her family’s magical legacy. And when a disastrous oil leak threatens the bayou, she knows she may also be the only one who can help. Does she have what it takes to be a hero?
A coming-of-age tale rich with folk magic, set in the wake of the Gulf oil spill, Bayou Magic celebrates hope, friendship, and family, and captures the wonder of life in the Deep South (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, May 12, 2015).
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