“But you…are my sweetest gift. The life surprise that soothed all my ills and gave me my greatest joys. I feel so blessed you are mine.”

Ninth Ward is part of the Louisiana Girls Trilogy

Ninth Ward

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 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 celebration of resilience, love, family, and friendship, and a deeply emotional story of transformation.

See pictures of the real Ninth Ward

Want to own an autographed copy of Ninth Ward? Order one straight from Jewell!



Ninth Ward and the students of Hahira Middle School

A Ninth Ward Book Report


Recognition and Accolades awarded to Ninth Ward

NNSTOY Social Justice Book List


Indian Paintbrush Award, Nominee

Wyoming Library Association

Grand Canyon Reader Award Nominee

Arizona Library Association

The Dorothy Canfield Fisher Children’s Book Award, Master List

Vermont Department of Libraries

Notable Books for a Global Society

Children’s Literature & Reading Special Interest Group

The Judy Lopez Memorial Award

The Judy Lopez Memorial Foundation

Jane Addams Honor Book Award

Jane Addams Peace Association

Best Fiction

School Library Journal

Al Roker “Today Show” Book Club Selection

Al Rocker, Today Show

Best Fiction for Middle Grade Readers, Finalist


Parent’s Choice Foundation Gold Award

Parent’s Choice Foundation

Coretta Scott King Honor Author Award

American Library Association


Words of praise for Ninth Ward from the press and authors

“An enjoyable, satisfying novel about the magical spirit of a young girl navigating her way through an American tragedy.”

Christopher Paul Curtis, Author

“If you are looking for a novel that lays blame about the devastation of New Orleans’ Ninth Ward, this is not it. If you are interested in a novel that captures the essence of New Orleans and its people while simultaneously illustrating how tragedy makes us stronger, Ninth Ward is a must read.”
Tara Baldridge, 57th Street Books

“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…”
Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

“Heartbreak and hope are reflected in Lanesha’s story, which will capture even reluctant readers due to the inventive storytelling and the author’s ability to bring history to life.”
School Library Journal, Starred Review

“Another gem by Jewell Parker Rhodes. Two youngsters, friends forever, find a way to survive, to love, to begin again. Wow! What a legacy to pass along.”
Nikki Giovanni, Author


Interviews on Ninth Ward

Author Interview: Jewell Parker Rhodes

Teen Writers Bloc

Day 26: Jewell Parker Rhodes

The Brown Bookshelf

Interview with Jewell Parker Rhodes

The Happy Nappy Bookseller

Author Reading

Audio recording of author Jewell Parker Rhodes

The Louisiana Girls Trilogy

The Louisiana Girls Trilogy are stories of young girls coming of age and finding the strength to overcome adversity. They are steeped in the folklore of the deep south of America and are hugely popular with young readers.

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