Set in an impoverished Chicago neighborhood, this somber story blends history with current events. Jerome Rogers, a black 12-year-old, is playing outside with a toy gun when he is shot and killed by a white policeman who views him as a threat. Now Jerome wanders the earth with other “ghost boys” whose deaths are all connected to bigotry. Ironically, the only human who can see Jerome is Sarah, the young daughter of the officer who took his life. Jerome meets the ghost of Emmett Till and learns the horrific details of his murder. Emmett, like the other ghost boys, cannot rest until the world is swept clean of discriminatory violence; maybe Jerome can help if he can make Sarah understand that her father’s act was a result of deeply ingrained racism. Rhodes writes in short, poetic chapters that offer graphic depictions of avoidable tragedies; her hope for a better world packs a powerful punch, delivering a call to action to speak out against prejudice and erase harmful misconceptions. Ages 10–up. Agent: Michael Bourret, Dystel, Goderich & Bourret. (Apr.)
Praise for Ghost Boys:
A New York Times Bestseller
An IndieBound Bestseller
The #1 Kids' Indies Next Pick
A 2018 Nerdies List Book
An ALA 2019 Children's Notables List Pick
"This was one of my most anticipated 2018 books and I was not disappointed. A must read."—Angie Thomas, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Hate U Give
* "Rhodes captures the all-too-real pain of racial injustice and provides an important window for readers who are just beginning to explore the ideas of privilege and implicit bias."—School Library Journal, starred review
* "An excellent novel that delves into the timely topic of racism... with the question of whether or not we really have come far when dealing with race relations."—School Library Connection, starred review
"In writing that's spare and powerful, Rhodes takes us into the hearts and minds of those who are left behind, and then out into a vast and luminous world where ghost boys wander among the living, pursuing their mysterious mission. Rhodes has achieved something remarkable here: a kid's-eye-view of violence and racism that balances innocence and outrage, wrenching loss and hard-won hope."—Chicago Tribune
"A timely, challenging book that's worthy of a read, further discussion, and action."—Kirkus Reviews
"[A] potent story that deserves to be read."—VOYA
"Ghost Boys is powerful in prose, and so important at this time. I hope parents will read this book to their children."—The Monitor
"Written beautifully...an important novel."—WCMU Public Radio
"Unblinkingly confronts challenging perspectives and the mutability of truth."—Shelf Awareness
Additional praise and awards for Jewell Parker Rhodes' books:
Ninth Ward was named a Coretta Scott King Author Honor Book, a Notable Book for a Global Society, a CCBC Choices pick, a VOYA Top Shelf Fiction pick, an ALSC Notable Children's Book, an SLJ Best Book of the Year, an IndieBound Kids' Next List pick, a Parents' Choice Gold Award recipient, and an NYPL Top 100 Title for Reading & Sharing.
Sugar was a Junior Library Guild selection, a Kirkus Best Book of the Year, an IndieBound Kids' Next List pick, a Jane Addams Book Award winner, an IRA Top Chapter Books selection, and a CCBC Choices Pick.
Bayou Magic was an LA Times summer reading selection and a Center for the Study of Multicultural Children's Literature Best Books selection.
Towers Falling was an Indiebound Kids' Next List selection, a Junior Library Guild selection, one of Amazon's Best Books of the Month, a Notable Social Studies Trade Book for Young People, a Seventeen Magazine Best Book of the Year, and a Notable Book for a Global Society.
"Rhodes deftly showcases how much power and intellectual understanding our kids have in building a more inclusive society.”—Book Riot
Gr 4–8—The Towers Falling author once again tackles a timely yet difficult subject. In Chicago, 12-year-old black youth Jerome is shot and killed by a white police officer who mistakes a toy gun for a real one. As a ghost, Jerome witnesses the aftermath gripping both his family and that of the police officers. Jerome also meets another ghost—that of Emmett Till, a black boy murdered in 1955. Through Till's story, he learns of the hundreds of other "ghost boys" left to roam and stop history from continually repeating itself. The only person who can see Jerome is the daughter of the white police officer, Sarah, and through her eyes, he realizes that his family isn't the only one affected by the tragedy. Two families are destroyed with one split decision, and Sarah and Jerome together try to heal both of their families, along with Jerome's friend Carlos. It was Carlos' toy gun that Jerome was playing with, leaving Carlos with great guilt and the intense desire to protect Jerome's little sister, Kim, from bullies and other sorrows. Deftly woven and poignantly told, this a story about society, biases both conscious and unconscious, and trying to right the wrongs of the world. VERDICT Rhodes captures the all-too-real pain of racial injustice and provides an important window for readers who are just beginning to explore the ideas of privilege and implicit bias.—Michele Shaw, Quail Run Elementary School, San Ramon, CA
In a story that explicitly recalls the murder of Tamir Rice, Jerome, a 12-year-old black boy killed by a white Chicago cop, must, along with the ghosts of Emmett Till and others, process what has happened and how. With the rising tide of today's Movement for Black Lives, there has been a re-examination of how the 1955 murder of Emmett Till became the fuel for the mid-20th-century civil rights movement. With this narrative in mind, Rhodes seeks to make Till's story relevant to the post-millennial generation. Readers meet Jerome, who's bullied at his troubled and underfunded neighborhood school, just at the time that Latinx newcomer Carlos arrives from San Antonio. After finding that Carlos' toy gun may help keep the school bullies at bay, Jerome is taken by surprise while playing in the park when a white arriving police officer summarily shoots him dead. The police officer's daughter, Sarah, is the only character who can truly see the ghost boys as they all struggle to process that day and move forward. Written in nonlinear chapters that travel between the afterlife and the lead-up to the unfortunate day, the novel weaves in how historical and sociopolitical realities come to bear on black families, suggesting what can be done to move the future toward a more just direction—albeit not without somewhat flattening the righteous rage of the African-American community in emphasizing the more palatable universal values of "friendship. Kindness. Understanding."A timely, challenging book that's worthy of a read, further discussion, and action. (Fiction. 8-12)