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About Jewell Parker Rhodes
Jewell Parker Rhodes is the author of five books for children: the New York Times bestseller and #1 Kids' Indie Next Pick Ghost Boys, Towers Falling, and the Louisiana Girls trilogy, which includes Ninth Ward, Sugar, and Bayou Magic. The Louisiana Girls books have received the Parents' Choice Foundation Award, the Coretta Scott King Author Honor Award, and the Jane Addam's Children's Book Award, among others. Towers Falling is a Junior Library Guild Selection, an Amazon's Best Book of the Month, and an ADL Best Kid Lit on Bias, Diversity, and Social Justice selection. Ghost Boys was named the NAIBA Book of the Year, a Project LIT Book Club Selection, and one of Amazon's Best Children's Books of the Year So Far.
Jewell is also the author of six adult novels: Voodoo Dreams, Magic City, Douglass' Women, Season, Moon, and Hurricane, as well as the memoir Porch Stories: A Grandmother's Guide to Happiness, and two writing guides, Free Within Ourselves: Fiction Lessons for Black Authors and The African American Guide to Writing and Publishing Non-Fiction. Her adult literary awards include the American Book Award, the National Endowment of the Arts Award in Fiction, the Black Caucus of the American Library Award for Literary Excellence, and the PEN Oakland/Josephine Miles Award for Outstanding Writing.
Jewell grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and earned a Bachelor of Arts in Drama Criticism, a Master of Arts in English, and a Doctor of Arts in English (Creative Writing) from Carnegie Mellon University. Jewell is the Founding Artistic Director and Piper Endowed Chair at the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing at Arizona State University. She currently lives in Seattle
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Only the living can make the world better. Live and make it better.
Twelve-year-old Jerome is shot by a police officer who mistakes his toy gun for a real threat. As a ghost, he observes the devastation that's been unleashed on his family and community in the wake of what they see as an unjust and brutal killing.
Soon Jerome meets another ghost: Emmett Till, a boy from a very different time but similar circumstances. Emmett helps Jerome process what has happened, on a journey towards recognizing how historical racism may have led to the events that ended his life. Jerome also meets Sarah, the daughter of the police officer, who grapples with her father's actions.
Once again Jewell Parker Rhodes deftly weaves historical and socio-political layers into a gripping and poignant story about how children and families face the complexities of today's world, and how one boy grows to understand American blackness in the aftermath of his own death.
When her fifth-grade teacher hints that a series of lessons about home and community will culminate with one big answer about two tall towers once visible outside their classroom window, Dèja can't help but feel confused. She sets off on a journey of discovery, with new friends Ben and Sabeen by her side. But just as she gets closer to answering big questions about who she is, what America means, and how communities can grow (and heal), she uncovers new questions, too. Like, why does Pop get so angry when she brings up anything about the towers?
Award-winning author Jewell Parker Rhodes tells a powerful story about young people who weren't alive to witness this defining moment in history, but begin to realize how much it colors their every day.
Framed. Bullied. Disliked. But I know I can still be the best.
Sometimes, 12-year-old Donte wishes he were invisible. As one of the few black boys at Middlefield Prep, most of the students don't look like him. They don't like him either. Dubbing him "Black Brother," Donte's teachers and classmates make it clear they wish he were more like his lighter-skinned brother, Trey.
When he's bullied and framed by the captain of the fencing team, "King" Alan, he's suspended from school and arrested.
Terrified, searching for a place where he belongs, Donte joins a local youth center and meets former Olympic fencer Arden Jones. With Arden's help, he begins training as a competitive fencer, setting his sights on taking down the fencing team captain, no matter what.
As Donte hones his fencing skills and grows closer to achieving his goal, he learns the fight for justice is far from over. Now Donte must confront his bullies, racism, and the corrupt systems of power that led to his arrest.
Powerful and emotionally gripping, Black Brother, Black Brother is a careful examination of the school-to-prison pipeline and follows one boy's fight against racism and his empowering path to finding his voice.
Ten-year-old Sugar lives on the River Road sugar plantation along the banks of the Mississippi. Slavery is over, but laboring in the fields all day doesn't make her feel very free. Thankfully, Sugar has a knack for finding her own fun, especially when she joins forces with forbidden friend Billy, the white plantation owner's son.
Sugar has always yearned to learn more about the world, and she sees her chance when Chinese workers are brought in to help harvest the cane. The older River Road folks feel threatened, but Sugar is fascinated. As she befriends young Beau and elder Master Liu, they introduce her to the traditions of their culture, and she, in turn, shares the ways of plantation life. Sugar soon realizes that she must be the one to bridge the cultural gap and bring the community together. Here is a story of unlikely friendships and how they can change our lives forever.
It's city-girl Maddy's first summer in the bayou, and she just falls in love with her new surroundings - the glimmering fireflies, the glorious landscape, and something else, deep within the water, that only she can see. 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? Jewell Parker Rhodes weaves a rich tale celebrating the magic within.
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 the 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.
From the New York Times bestselling author of Ghost Boys and Towers Falling, Ninth Ward is a deeply emotional story about transformation and a celebration of resilience, friendship, and family--as only love can define it.
Voodoo Dreams is the spellbinding story of the woman behind the legend. Raised by her Grandmère in the Louisiana bayou, Marie ventures to New Orleans and begins a journey of self-discovery, hoping to find her lost Maman and understand the visions that haunt her dreams. Instead, she runs headlong into the brutality of slavery and oppression and into the arms of John, the voodoo doctor who promises to teach her what Grandmère will not. As she falls under his spell, John sweeps Marie into a world of voodoo ceremonies, of drama and manipulation, and of sometimes terrifying power. A mesmerizing combination of history and story telling, Voodoo Dreams was Jewell Parker Rhodes first novel and a B&N Discover Great New Writers selection.
Jewell is the author of six adult novels (Voodoo Dreams, Magic City, Douglass' Women, and the Marie Laveau mystery trilogy, Season, Moon, and Hurricane), two novels for children (Ninth Ward and Sugar) and several non-fiction books. Her work has won many awards, including the American Book Award, a Coretta Scott King Honor award, and a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship. She is the founding director of the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing at Arizona State University.
Voodoo Season, Rhodes's fourth novel, revisits the mystical landscape of Louisiana, but now, for the first time, the celebrated author of historical fiction presents a mystery set in the here and now. This is the story of Marie Levant, a great-great granddaughter of Marie Laveau and a medical doctor compelled by unseen forces to relocate from Chicago to her family's native home. This is New Orleans, where the slave-holding past merges with the twenty-first century, a place where women of color are still being abused, raped, and -- even more horrifying -- rendered "un-dead," zombie-like Sleeping Beauties. The Quadroon Balls of yesterday are a present reality and only Marie Levant can untangle the medical mystery.
A smart modern-day heroine, unafraid of her sexuality, Marie Levant extends the Laveau legacy of spiritual empowerment, prophetic vision, and voodoo possession. Voodoo Season is a fresh and original work of fiction that is a magical womanist tale of mystery and power.
In her introduction, Jewell Parker Rhodes writes: "Never (in four years of college or five years of graduate school) was I assigned an exercise or given a story example that included a person of color...While the educational system and the publishing world have become progressively more welcoming of African-American authors, there is still little attention to educating, supporting, and sustaining the writing process of African-American authors. Free Within Ourselves is a solid first step--it is the book I wished I had when I started out as a writer. It is meant to be a song of encouragement for African-American artisits and visionaries. Free Within Ourselves is a step-by-step introduction to fictional technique, exploring story ideas, and charting one's progress, as well as a resource guide for publishing fiction."
For the legions of people who have a novel stuck in their word processors, help is finally on the way! Free Within Ourselves is an excellent guide to all the elements necessary to crafting fiction: character development, point of view, plot, atmosphere, dialogue, diction, sentence variety, and revision. Writing techniques are taught using exercises, journaling, story examples, and analyses of famous writing fragments, as well as several complete stories (including those of James Baldwin, Zora Neale Hurston, and Edwidge Dandicat, among others). The book is further enhanced by inspirational advice from successful contemporary black writers (such as Bebe Moore Campbell, Rita Dove, Henry Louis Gates, John Edgar Wideman, and others), a bibliography, and a guide to workshops, journals, magazines, contests, and fellowships supportive of black arts.
Marie Levant, the great-great granddaughter of the Voodoo Queen, Marie Laveau, knows better than anyone New Orleans's brutal past -- the legacy of slavery, poverty, racism, and sexism -- and as a doctor at Charity Hospital's ER, she treats its current victims.
When she sleeps, she dreams of blood. Rain, never ending. The river is rising and the yellow moon warns of an ancient evil -- an African vampire -- wazimamoto -- a spirit created by colonial oppression.
The struggle becomes personal, as the wazimamoto is intent on destroying her and all the Laveau descendants. Marie fights to protect her daughter, lover, and herself from the wazimamoto's seductive assault on both body and spirit.
Echoing with the heartache and triumph of the African-American experience, the soulful rhythms of jazz, and the horrors of racial oppression, Yellow Moon gives us an unforgettable heroine -- sexy, vulnerable, and mysterious -- in Marie Levant, while it powerfully evokes a city on the brink of catastrophe.
Yellow Moon is part two of the New Orleans trilogy that began with Voodoo Season -- magical realist fiction that takes the legend of the voodoo priestess Marie Laveau, as imagined by Jewell Parker Rhodes in the bestselling Voodoo Dreams, into the present day.
Douglass' Women reimagines the lives of an American hero, Frederick Douglass, and two women -- his wife and his mistress -- who loved him and lived in his shadow. Anna Douglass, a free woman of color, was Douglass' wife of forty-four years, who bore him five children. Ottilie Assing, a German-Jewish intellectual, provided him the companionship of the mind that he needed. Hurt by Douglass' infidelity, Anna rejected his notion that only literacy freed the mind. For her, familial love rivaled intellectual pursuits. Ottilie was raised by parents who embraced the ideal of free love, but found herself entrapped in an unfulfilling love triangle with America's most famous self-taught slave for nearly three decades.
In her finest novel to date, Jewell Parker Rhodes vividly resurrects these two extraordinary women from history, portraying the life they led together under the same roof of the Douglass home. Here, fiery emotions of passion, jealousy, and resentment churn as the women discover an uneasy solidarity in shared love for an exceptional and powerful man. Douglass' Women fills the gaps and silences that history has left in an unforgettable epic full of heartache and triumph.
"A compelling page-turner that will keep readers hoping against hope that everything will somehow, magically, turn out for the best." — Atlanta Journal-Constitution
With a new Afterword from the author reflecting on the 100th anniversary of one of the most heinous tragedies in American history—the 1921 burning of Greenwood, an affluent black section of Tulsa, Oklahoma, known as the "Negro Wall Street"—Jewell Parker Rhodes’ powerful an unforgettable novel of racism, vigilantism, and injustice, weaves history, mysticism, and murder into a harrowing tale of dreams and violence gone awry.
Tulsa, Oklahoma, 1921. A white woman and a black man are alone in an elevator. Suddenly, the woman screams, the man flees, and the chase to capture and lynch him begins.
When Joe Samuels, a young Black man with dreams of becoming the next Houdini, is accused of rape, he must perform his greatest escape by eluding a bloodthirsty mob.
Meanwhile, Mary Keane, the white, motherless daughter of a farmer who wants to marry her off to the farmhand who viciously raped her, must find the courage to help exonerate the man she accused with her panicked cry.
Magic City evokes one of the darkest chapters of twentieth century, Jim Crow America, painting an intimate portrait of the heroic but doomed stand that pitted the National Guard against a small band of black men determined to defend the prosperous town they had built.