Hi friends! This blog is for teachers and families- all for the sheer joy of literacy. When we are enthusiastic about reading and writing our students and our own kids become excited to read and write. I hope that we all can be models for those in our care- how did you show your passion for reading, writing, learning, language, or words today?? It's in those small, daily moments that we teach kids to love literacy.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

The Threat of a Rising Flood: Ninth Ward by Jewell Parker Rhodes

This morning I finished reading Ninth Ward by Jewell Parker Rhodes. I enjoyed and and recommend it. My review and suggestions for use:
        • This is an excellent book to introduce young readers to the ravages of Hurricane Katrina, the breaking of the levees thereafter, and the ensuing flood. Many late-elementary or middle school students will not know much about Katrina (at least here in CA). Students unfamiliar with Katrina and its effects will find the challenges that these young characters faced unreal.
        • Young girls will connect to the studious and mature character, Lanesha. Despite being abandoned at a young age by her family, she is resilient. And even though she is fairly poor, Rhodes presents us with a rich layered character, rather than a stereotypical portrait of a kid from the Ninth Ward of NO.
        • Lanesha sees ghosts of loved ones all throughout the book. This element to the book would also engage the young reader that likes a little spookiness to their books (many do). I am not into ghosts per say, but I feel like this aspect of the book reflects New Orleans culture.
        • I can definitely see myself reading this book aloud to a group of 4th/5th/6th grade students. The dialogue, characters, and mounting tension would make it riveting to listen to. Just be prepared to plow through it towards the end- your students won't want you to stop reading!
From Good Reads:
A 2011 Coretta Scott King Author Honor Book

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.
Ninth Ward is a deeply emotional story about transformation and a celebration of resilience, friendship, and family—as only love can define it.
Hardcover, 217 pages
Published August 16th 2010 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

YA Book next in the queue: One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia

From Good Reads: Eleven-year-old Delphine has it together. Even though her mother, Cecile, abandoned her and her younger sisters, Vonetta and Fern, seven years ago. Even though her father and Big Ma will send them from Brooklyn to Oakland, California, to stay with Cecile for the summer. And even though Delphine will have to take care of her sisters, as usual, and learn the truth about the missing pieces of the past.
When the girls arrive in Oakland in the summer of 1968, Cecile wants nothing to do with them. She makes them eat Chinese takeout dinners, forbids them to enter her kitchen, and never explains the strange visitors with Afros and black berets who knock on her door. Rather than spend time with them, Cecile sends Delphine, Vonetta, and Fern to a summer camp sponsored by a revolutionary group, the Black Panthers, where the girls get a radical new education.
Set during one of the most tumultuous years in recent American history, one crazy summer is the heartbreaking, funny tale of three girls in search of the mother who abandoned them—an unforgettable story told by a distinguished author of books for children and teens, Rita Williams-Garcia.

Hardcover, 218 pages
Published February 1st 2010 by Amistad (first published January 8th 2010)
Be Well! Read On!


  1. I am adding One Crazy Summer to my TBR RIGHT NOW. That looks amazing.


  2. You'll love it! I tried to take a nap this afternoon, but read half of this book instead. I like her writing style a lot, and the plot is thrilling. I can't wait to finish this tonight!

  3. Wow, that is so interesting to read about a kids' book on Katrina. I would never have even thought about that. It probably helps even with other natural disasters that kids have undoubtedly heard about in the news. I'm sure just reading a book like that would open communication lines about questions or fears they might have.

  4. Tricia, And the main character in the book has such strength and determination despite her fears! There are some amazing kids books out now. I just finished the other book here, about the Black Panthers in Oakland- crazy good and enlightening (post to follow soon)!

  5. I was in New Orleans about 9 months after the flood for the first national convention that was held post-Katrina. It was ALA (American Library Association)and I will always remember the many signs on street corners saying such things as "Thanks Library Ladies" etc etc. The city was still in the pulling itself back together at that stage.

    As an author/illustrator, with my first book at ALA it holds a very dear place in my heart.

    I'm on the picture book channel, so it's great to have your insight into the more matrure crowd. Thanks.

    (Popped thru from WeTeach)


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