Tag Archives: New Orleans

From the Mailbox – Jewell Parker Rhodes

Jewell Parker Rhodes is a past Wadadli Pen patron. This just in, or recently in, news of her Louisiana Girls Trilogy.

The Louisiana Girls trilogy from award-winning author Jewell Parker Rhodes brings together three heroic girls from across history. These coming of age books tell the stories of Lanesha, Sugar, and Maddy, each living in Louisiana during a time of crisis, and each finding bravery within themselves in the face of overwhelming adversity. Steeped in the folklore tradition of the American deep south, this trilogy celebrates the power of friendship and family, and demonstrates how anyone with enough strength in their heart can change the lives of those around them. All three Louisiana Girls books are now available in paperback.

Bayou Magic

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? 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.


Slavery is over, but ten-year-old Sugar doesn’t feel very free laboring in the fields all day. 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.

This is the one she contributed to the Wadadli Pen Challenge prize package, and because one of the winners was a Cushion Club member, the club got an opportunity to read and enjoy it as well.

Ninth Ward

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.

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Ninth Ward and more

When I emailed Jewell Parker Rhodes requesting she contribute copies of her children’s book Ninth Ward

Credits – book cover artist Shino Arihara and design by Alison Impey.

to the 2011 Wadadli Pen prize package, it was because the plot caught my attention and I figured Antiguan and Barbudan kids would enjoy and be able to relate to this tale of 12-year-old Lanesha, her grand Mama YaYa and the hurricane that would change their lives. We’re familiar, of course, with the Katrina situation and here in the Caribbean know intimately the destructive force of hurricane season all too well. Plus, of all places American, I feel particularly drawn to New Orleans which is on my must-visit list. Well, I’m happy to report that Jewell did not hesitate and mailed two copies of the book to Antigua; the getting here took a while but they arrived in the mail today. So thank you, for your generous response to an anonymous(ish) request, writer to writer, across the water. My only regret, that I didn’t request an extra copy for Cushion Club reading. After this, hopefully, they’ll be stocked locally (if they aren’t already).

For more on the Ninth Ward, check here for a book club discussion, here  for Amazon critic and customer reviews, here  for a blogger’s review, and book details at the author’s own site here.

For other book donations, thanks as well to Antiguan authors Floree Williams (Pink Teacups and Blue Dresses and Through the Closed Window) and Marcel Marshall (All that Glitters is not Gold); the Antigua and Barbuda International Literary Festival (for the contribution of books by Bernice  McFadden, Sugar; Lorna Goodison, Turn Thanks and Selected Poems;  and Elizabeth Nunez, Prospero’s Daughter and Anna In-Between); and 2011 partner, the Best of Books.

For the full list of 2011 prize donors, see here.

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