Jewell Parker. Rhodes Visits via Skype, Ninth Ward Project Complete

Student asks Jewell P. Rhodes a question

Thursday, the 22nd, may have been the very last day of the school year, and the very last hours of the day, but the seventh graders still had one more piece to complete in the Ninth Ward Project---sitting down and having a chat with the author of the book that started it all, Jewell Parker Rhodes. Jewell and I have become friends, but she is also extremely busy. When I contacted her in early March to set up a skype, she was more than willing, but she had difficulty finding time in her hectic schedule when she could meet with us. She sent me an email right before our last week of school to ask if we still wanted to talk to her. It took a bit of work, but we found 30 minutes in between her packing to go away and the last minutes of school for the skype to happen.

Jewell did some reading of Ninth Ward and Sugar. The first book takes place in 2005 during the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, but the other takes place on a sugar plantation in Louisiana  just after the Civil War. I love hearing her read. She makes the stories really come alive.

The students asked her questions about what was real in the book. Interestingly, Jewell had been to New Orleans before Katrina, but had not been familiar with the Ninth Ward. She walked the sidewalks there after the storm did its damage. The students also asked about the characters and  why she added the paranormal aspect into the story. They also asked where Lanesha got her strength. I thought that was a wonderful question. Jewell said that she sees kids today with an inner strength that she did not possess as a child. Also, as a child, she yearned to read books with characters that were like her, African American. She felt that she had an important story to write because of this, and she was so right.

Thank you Jewell for taking a bit of time to talk to us and let our students know the power that stories can hold in our lives.

Here is a very short clip of Jewell reading from Ninth Ward:

Read more about the Ninth Ward project here.
Student created products are here.
Find the pathfinder and all the resources to complete the pathfinder here


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