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Honors continue for 'Ninth Ward'

book jacket of the children's novel "Ninth Ward"
January 12, 2011

“Ninth Ward,” the first novel for young readers by Arizona State University’s award-winning author Jewell Parker Rhodes, was selected for a 2011 Coretta Scott King Author Honor Book Award. Presented by the American Library Association, the announcement was made Jan. 10 at the ALA Midwinter Meeting in San Diego. 

Designed to commemorate the life and works of Martin Luther King Jr. and to honor Coretta Scott King for her courage and determination to continue the work for peace, the Coretta Scott King Book Awards were established in 1970 to recognize outstanding books for young adults and children by African American authors and illustrators that reflect the African American experience. 

The ALA recognition is the latest in a growing list of honors and awards for “Ninth Ward.” Even before its release this past August, the Parents’ Choice Foundation chose “Ninth Ward” as a recipient of its Gold Award. The School Library Journal gave it a starred review and also named it one of the Top Books of 2010. It also received a starred review from Publishers Weekly. The Today Show’s children’s book club, Al’s Book Club for Kids, selected “Ninth Ward” for its August read and Rhodes appeared on the show in September. 

The book’s heroine is 12-year-old Lanesha, a New Orleans orphan who, despite “hope and a big heart,” is an outsider because of her ability to see spirits. Though her peers taunt her, Lanesha’s own spirit won’t be broken. “I don’t try to be invisible,” she said. “I’m not ashamed of me.” 

A professor in ASU’s Department of English in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Rhodes’ honors include the Pen Oakland Award for Outstanding Writing, American Book Award, National Endowment of the Arts Award, Black Caucus of the American Library Award for Literary Excellence and two Arizona Book Awards. She also serves as the Piper Endowed Chair and artistic director for global engagement at ASU's Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing

Tom McDermott,
Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing