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Ninth Wardby Jewell Parker Rhodes
Synopses & Reviews
Treasures dad has disappeared and her mom sets out to track him down, leaving twelve-year-old Treasure and her little sister, Tiffany, in small-town Virginia with their eccentric, dictatorial Great-Aunt Grace. GAG (as the girls refer to her) is a terrible cook, she sets off Treasures asthma with her cat and her chain smoking, and her neighbors suspect her in the recent jewel thefts. As the hope of finding their dad fades, the girls and their great-aunt begin to understand and accommodate one another. When a final dash to their dads last known address proves unsuccessful, Treasure has to accept that hes gone for good. When she goes back to Great-Aunt Graces, it is the first time she has returned to a place instead of just moving on. Convincing, fully realized characters, a snarky narrative voice, and laugh-aloud funny dialogue make The Perfect Place a standout among stories of adjustment and reconfigured families.
"With a mix of magical and gritty realism, Rhodes's (Voodoo Dreams) first novel for young readers imagines Hurricane Katrina and the subsequent flooding through the eyes of resourceful 12-year-old Lanesha. Lanesha lives with Mama Ya-Ya, an 82-year-old seer and midwife who delivered Lanesha and has cared for her since her teenage mother died in childbirth. Living in the Ninth Ward of New Orleans, Lanesha is viewed as an unusual child (she was born with a caul and is able to see ghosts) and is ostracized at school. Lanesha finds strength in Mama Ya-Ya's constant love and axioms of affection and reassurance ('When the time's right... the universe shines down love'). The story becomes gripping as the waters rise and Lanesha, with help from a young neighbor and her mother's ghostly presence, finds a way to keep body and soul together. The spare but vivid prose, lilting dialogue, and skilled storytelling brings this tragedy to life; the powerful sense of community Rhodes evokes in the Ninth Ward prior to the storm makes the devastation and the hardships Lanesha endures all the more powerful. Ages 10 — up. (Aug.) In alternating chapters, Dutch author Matti's first novel tells two esoteric stories that coalesce into a lyrical and moving whole. One involves an unnamed 11-year-old girl's memories of her life before the death of her father, Sky. They had been close, despite Sky's frequent travels as a musician. She is angry when he breaks his promise to return for her birthday and sends him a letter she regrets, which shrouds the story in guilt. The other story, set in a surreal dreamscape, follows another 11-year-old, who enters a hotel to escape the rain, where she encounters a talking fox and rat. While certain things seem familiar (the crook in the rat's tail, piano music she hears in her room) she cannot remember anything about her past, not even her name. The shifts between stories are seamless, and letters between father and daughter gradually clue readers in to the relationship between the two tales. As the puzzlelike story unfolds, it retains a suspenseful quality, as the girl works through emotional issues and uncovers the large and small mysteries in her life. Ages 10 — up. (Aug.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright PWyxz LLC)
When Treasure's dad disappears and Mom sets out to track him down, twelve-year-old Treasure and her little sister Tiffany are stuck with their Great-Aunt Grace, whose many rules make for a miserable living situation. As time stretches on and Dad doesn't turn up, Treasure, Tiffany, and their mother have to accept that he isn't coming back. It's Great-Aunt Grace who takes them in, and together they learn that their unconventional family can be just as whole without him.
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.
About the Author
Teresa E. Harris earned her bachelor's degree in English from Columbia University and an MFA in Writing for Children from Vermont College, where she won numerous awards.
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