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Jewell Parker Rhodes Books In Order

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Publication Order of The Louisiana Girls Trilogy Books

Ninth Ward (2010)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Sugar (2013)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Bayou Magic (2015)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Publication Order of The Marie Laveau Mystery Books

Voodoo Dreams of Marie Laveau (1993)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Voodoo Season (2005)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Moon (2008)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Hurricane (2011)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Publication Order of Standalone Novels

Magic City (1997)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Douglass' Women (2002)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Towers Falling (2016)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Ghost Boys (2018)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Black Brother, Black Brother (2020)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Paradise on Fire (2021)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Publication Order of Short Stories/Novellas

Long Distances (2021)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Publication Order of Collections

Porch Stories (2006)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Publication Order of Non-Fiction Books

Free Within Ourselves (1999)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The African American Guide to Writing & Publishing Non Fiction (2002)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Jewell Parker Rhodes is an American author of children, fiction, and nonfiction books. Her first book, “Ghost Boys,” describes the story of a 12-year-old African American boy shot in 2014 by a white police officer.

Her second book is called “Ghosts in the Schoolyard: Dominican Ghost Stories and Other Strange Tales.” Both books focus on social justice, black history, and ghost stories.

Jewell’s novel Ninth Ward tells the story of a multi-racial family living in New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina hits the town. Her novel Ninth Ward won the 2012 Newbery Honor medal for excellence in children’s literature.

Ninth Ward
Ninth Ward was inspired by true stories of what happened during Katrina and focuses on Precious, her older brother Lionel, and their mother, M’Dear, who is also pregnant but has already lost two children.

When the levees break, the siblings must fight out of New Orleans while trying to save their family members, including dogs Sammy and Boo.
Writing about the chaos that came with Hurricane Katrina is nothing new for Rhodes, but she had more freedom to write about race relations before and after it hit.

This novel will allow you to explore African-American families living in New Orleans and their struggles before, during, and after Katrina.
The story introduces the readers to Lanesha, an African-American girl living with her Mama Ya-Ya, who is almost 100 years old and can “read” people just by touching them.

Lanesha’s best friend, Chantarelle, moves away just as things were looking up: she was finally allowed to go to the movies with boys and starts talking about college. But Lanesha’s faith in God keeps her going–her mama says that “we all have our trails.” She finds new friends at church, including Rochelle, who has moved from Los Angeles, Nay, and Miss Maybelline, who sings on Bourbon Street.

Hurricane Katrina has swept through New Orleans and left devastation in its wake. Eleven-year-old Lanesha lives with her Mama Ya-Ya and younger brother Joshua in the Lower Ninth Ward, one of the worst-hit areas. Their house is undamaged, but life will never be the same again: friends and family have dispersed across the country; they’ve lost their school; hardly anyone comes to church anymore.

Jewell Parker Rhodes offers a powerful portrait of the city she calls home. In this New Orleans story told from two very different points of view–that of a young girl and that of a hurricane, both brimming with energy and possibility, yet vulnerable to anger and rage if misunderstood–the author creates a moving parable for our times.

This story is set against Hurricane Katrina, but it is very much about strong female protagonists and strong family connections, making for a fantastic read at any time of year. It also brings up issues such as homelessness, racism, segregation, and teenage pregnancy.

The author’s strong voice shines through in her depiction of Lanesha, who has been taught by her loving Mama Ya-Ya how to “read” people as well as leaves. But when it comes time for Lanesha to face Hurricane Katrina on her own, will those skills be enough?

With its themes of community and family loyalty, reverence for the environment, and respect for history, this novel has much to offer teenage readers.
Additionally, what makes it work so well is that Lanesha’s voice–her thoughts about what happens during Katrina and after–is so clear and strong that the reader feels Lanesha’s emotions as her own. The portrayal of a loving, mixed-race family is another plus.

Ghost Boys
Have you ever wondered what life would be like if your race was in charge? Or have you ever asked yourself why white people, for that matter? Well, these are the questions at the center of Jewell Parker Rhodes’ novel Ghost Boys.

The book is narrated by Jerome Turner, who, at the beginning of the story but shortly before his death, decides to share all of his thoughts with us through a series of journal entries. As he shares his thoughts on everything from how he feels about being black in America to gang violence and poverty, readers get an intimate understanding of Jerome’s heart and mind.

He speaks openly about fears he has concerning police officers’ treatment of him due to his race, leading to him being shot by one while walking home from school. Now a ghost, Jerome takes us on a journey as he makes his way to heaven and revisits moments from his life that have helped shape him into the person he has become.

Ghost Boys is a story that highly resonates with James Baldwin’s essay titled On Being Black in America. James shares similar sentiments about being black in America. These sentiments include feeling isolated from society, pressure to fit into a certain mold, and inadequacy due to race relations in society today.
Baldwin wrote this when blacks were struggling for equal rights and protesting against injustices, so it’s important to understand that his feelings are rooted in this context.

Ghost Boys by Jewell Parker Rhodes is a book for YA upper middle schoolers and teens. It is artfully written in verse, making it approachable for older readers struggling with police brutality. Jewell Parker Rhodes uses poetry to convey timely messages about justice, accountability, systemic racism, and bias that impact us all on some level. The police killed the protagonist Jerome on Mother’s Day while celebrating at church with his mother and sister. He wakes up as a ghost, but unlike other zombies who give no thought to their condition, he does – he goes back in time to see what led up to him being shot dead.
The chapters alternate between past and present with flashbacks to memories of happier times – when Jerome was alive, loved, and cherished by his family.
Rhodes uses alternating voices to tell two stories, one about Jerome/Ghost Boy’s murder and the other about his family’s grief, hopes, and fears, including his sister Minnijean who is both traumatized by her brother’s death and worried that she too will die at the hands of a police officer.

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