Orion Children’s acquires powerful middle-grade novel about racial prejudice

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Orion Children’s Books, part of the Hachette Children’s Group, has acquired a powerful middle-grade novel about a black boy killed by a white police officer by award-winning US author Jewell Parker Rhodes.

Drawing connections with real-life history, Ghost Boys is the first children’s book authored by Jewell to be published by a UK publisher. It tells the story of Jerome, a quiet, well-behaved 12-year-old who is shot by a police officer who mistakes his toy gun for a real threat. After his death, Jerome comes back to his neighbourhood as a ghost. As he watches his family try to cope with his death, he begins to notice other ghost boys too – and they all have something in common…

Ghost Boys will publish in paperback in April 2018.

Jewell Parker Rhodes grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She is now a professor of creative writing at Arizona State University and lives in California, USA. Her writing has already won an abundance of awards in the US including the American Book Award and the Coretta Scott King Author Honor Award.

Jewell says, ‘If a middle school student can be killed, then you can certainly talk to them about this topic. As an adult novelist, I always wrote about race, class, gender, and religious discrimination. I write for children now. I believe they are our best hope for a better world. The young are curious and have such open hearts. I write challenging stories not to embitter them but to empower them to “be the change” – to remember always the sense of justice and fairness they knew instinctively as children, when they become adults. Writing stories about citizenship and social justice, I hope will be my legacy—my own personal attempt to “bear witness” beyond the grave.’