Author bio

Jewell Parker Rhodes

Jewell Parker Rhodes - book author

Jewell Parker Rhodes has always loved reading and writing stories. Born and raised in Manchester, a largely African-American neighborhood on the North Side of Pittsburgh, she was a voracious reader as a child. She began college as a dance major, but when she discovered there were novels by African Americans, for African Americans, she knew she wanted to be an author. She wrote six novels for adults, two writing guides, and a memoir, but writing for children remained her dream.

Now Jewell has published four children’s books: Ninth Ward, Sugar, Bayou Magic, and Towers Falling. Her fifth, Ghost Boys, will be released in spring of 2018. She's also published six adult novels, two writing guides, and a memoir. When she’s not writing, she’s visiting schools to talk about her books with the kids who read them, or teaching writing at Arizona State University, where she is the Piper Endowed Chair and Founding Artistic Director of the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing.

Jewell has received numerous honors including: the American Book Award, the National Endowment of the Arts Award in Fiction, the Black Caucus of the American Library Award for Literary Excellence, the PEN Oakland/Josephine Miles Award for Outstanding Writing, and two Arizona Book Awards. Ninth Ward 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. Her work has been published in China, Korea, France, Germany, Italy, Canada, Turkey and the United Kingdom, and reproduced in audio for NPR’s “Selected Shorts.”

Jewell Parker Rhodes is the author of books: Ghost Boys, Towers Falling, Ninth Ward, Sugar, Voodoo Dreams: A Novel of Marie Laveau, Bayou Magic, Douglass' Women, Voodoo Season, Moon (Marie Laveau Mystery #2), Magic City


Author books

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Title
Description
01
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.
02
From award-winning author Jewell Parker Rhodes, a powerful novel set fifteen years after the 9/11 attacks.

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, Deja 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.
03
From New York Times bestselling and award-winning author Jewell Parker Rhodes comes a heartbreaking and uplifting tale of survival in the face of Hurricane Katrina.
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.
04
From Jewell Parker Rhodes, the author of Towers Falling and Ninth Ward (a Coretta Scott King Honor Book and a Today show Al's Book Club for Kids pick) comes a tale of a strong, spirited young girl who rises beyond her circumstances and inspires others to work toward a brighter future.
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.
05
The story of Marie Laveau, the character featured on American Horror Story: Coven.

New Orleans in the mid-nineteenth century: a potent mix of whites, Creoles, free blacks, and African slaves, a city pulsing with crowds, commerce, and an undercurrent of secret power. The source of this power is the voodoo religion, and its queen is Marie Laveau, the notorious voodooienne, worshipped and feared by blacks and whites alike.
06
If only Maddy sees the mermaid, can it be real?

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 only the 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.
07
Hailed as a masterpiece of historical fiction, this classic by Jewel Parker Rhodes, the bestselling author of Voodoo Dreams, examines the role of the women in Frederick Douglass' life.
08
Voodoo Season revisits the mystical landscape of New Orleans and its most famous Voodoo priestess, Marie Laveau that Jewell Parker Rhodes introduced us to in her previous novel Voodoo Dreams. This time, the award-winning author of historical fiction sets the story in the here and now.

Meet Marie Levant. The great-great granddaughter of the beloved, tantalizing Marie Laveau, she is compelled by unseen forces to leave her medical career in Chicago behind and return to her roots. But once she arrives in New Orleans, Marie is both seduced and horrified by this mysterious landscape whose slave-holding past merges with the spoils of the twenty-first century. A place where the Quadroon Balls of yesterday are a present reality, and women of color are still being abused and, even more horrifying, rendered "undead." Yet through it all, Marie can't help but sense that she's lived here before . . . and that maybe there's more to this city's history and her own.

With Voodoo Season, Rhodes once again presents her legions of fans with a heroine of authentic power and an alluring, unforgettable read.

09
Part two of the New Orleans trilogy that began with Voodoo Season, Yellow Moon is magical realist fiction that takes the legend of the voodoo priestess Marie Laveau into the present day.
10
Tulsa, Oklahoma, 1921. A white woman and a black man are alone in an elevator. Suddenly, the woman screams, the man runs out, and the chase to capture and lynch him begins.

When Joe, a young man trying to be the next Houdini, is accused of rape, he must perform his greatest escape by eluding a bloodthirsty lynch mob. And Mary, the motherless daughter of a farmer who tries to marry her off to the farmhand who viciously raped her, must find the courage to help exonerate the man she had accused with her panicked cry. Based on true events, Magic City is a portrait of an era, climaxing in the heroic but doomed stand that pitted the National Guard against a small band of black men determined to defend the town they had built into the "Negro Wall Street."

Named by the Chicago Tribune as a Favorite Book of 1997