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Sugar
Cover of Sugar
Sugar
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Ten-year-old Sugar lives on the River Road sugar plantation along the banks of the Mississippi. Slavery is over, but laboring in the fields all day doesn't make her feel very free. Thankfully, Sugar has a knack for finding her own fun, especially when she joins forces with forbidden friend Billy, the white plantation owner's son.

Sugar has always yearned to learn more about the world, and she sees her chance when Chinese workers are brought in to help harvest the cane. The older River Road folks feel threatened, but Sugar is fascinated. As she befriends young Beau and elder Master Liu, they introduce her to the traditions of their culture, and she, in turn, shares the ways of plantation life. Sugar soon realizes that she must be the one to bridge the cultural gap and bring the community together. Here is a story of unlikely friendships and how they can change our lives forever.

From Jewell Parker Rhodes, the author of Ninth Ward (a Coretta Scott King Honor Book and a Today show Al's Book Club for Kids pick), here's another tale of a strong, spirited young girl who rises beyond her circumstances and inspires others to work toward a brighter future.

Ten-year-old Sugar lives on the River Road sugar plantation along the banks of the Mississippi. Slavery is over, but laboring in the fields all day doesn't make her feel very free. Thankfully, Sugar has a knack for finding her own fun, especially when she joins forces with forbidden friend Billy, the white plantation owner's son.

Sugar has always yearned to learn more about the world, and she sees her chance when Chinese workers are brought in to help harvest the cane. The older River Road folks feel threatened, but Sugar is fascinated. As she befriends young Beau and elder Master Liu, they introduce her to the traditions of their culture, and she, in turn, shares the ways of plantation life. Sugar soon realizes that she must be the one to bridge the cultural gap and bring the community together. Here is a story of unlikely friendships and how they can change our lives forever.

From Jewell Parker Rhodes, the author of Ninth Ward (a Coretta Scott King Honor Book and a Today show Al's Book Club for Kids pick), here's another tale of a strong, spirited young girl who rises beyond her circumstances and inspires others to work toward a brighter future.

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  • Kindle Book
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  • Available:
    1
  • Library copies:
    1
Levels-
  • ATOS:
    2.9
  • Lexile:
  • Interest Level:
    MG
  • Text Difficulty:
    K - 2

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Awards-
About the Author-
  • Jewell Parker Rhodes is an award-winning author and the Piper Endowed Chair and founding artistic director of the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing at Arizona State University. Her books for adults have won the American Book Award and the Black Caucus of the American Library Association Award for Literary Excellence. Ninth Ward, her first novel for young readers, was named a Coretta Scott King Honor Book, a Notable Book for a Global Society, and a Today show Al's Book Club for Kids selection.

Reviews-
  • DOGO Books gymnast19 - A lovely tale with a 10 year old slave girl,Sugar, whose mama died and father got sold.She lives with an old couple. She loved the old mans stories about bre'er rabbit.She lives on a sugar plantation in Mississippi and hates sugar even though her mom named her that and she harvest it everyday.Slavery is over and the master wants more help so he gets china-men. Sugar tries to prove that they have some good in while facing hard times.This book tells how it was like being a slave. This book is amazing.That is why I give it 5 stars
  • Publisher's Weekly

    March 25, 2013
    In 1870 Louisiana, five years after the Thirteenth Amendment outlawed slavery, Sugar is still bound to the crop whose name she shares: “I’m ten now. I’m not a slave anymore. I’m free. Except from sugar.” Sugar and her mother had been waiting for the return of her father, who was sold shortly after Sugar was born; when Sugar’s mother died, her daughter was left with nowhere to go. Sugar’s caring guardians and her occasional adventures in the woods are bright spots in her life, but she feels left behind as friends head north. When “Chinamen” are hired to work on the plantation, Sugar’s community feels threatened; however, Sugar’s intuition, curiosity, and spirit move her to befriend the perceived enemy and bring everyone together. Rhodes (Ninth Ward) paints a realistic portrait of the hard realities of Sugar’s life, while also incorporating Br’er Rabbit stories and Chinese folktales. Sugar’s clipped narration is personable and engaging, strongly evoking the novel’s historical setting and myriad racial tensions, making them accessible and meaningful to beginning readers. Ages 8–12. Agent: Michael Bourret, Dystel & Goderich Literary Management.

  • Kirkus

    Starred review from March 15, 2013
    Rhodes' book elegantly chronicles the hope of one 10-year-old girl seeking a bigger world in post-Civil War America. When Chinese laborers arrive, Sugar finally believes in a world beyond River Road Plantation. In 1870, five years after the Emancipation Proclamation, many former slaves remain on their plantations--only now working for a bleak slave wage. Sugar was born into slavery on a sugar plantation and still lives there, feeling constricted and anything but free. To the complicated relationship she enjoys with the plantation owner's son, Billy, is added another, with newly arrived "Chinamen" Bo/Beau and Master Liu. Most Americans are aware of the brutality of slavery, but few stop to consider that the abolition of slavery created a new turmoil for former slaves. How would they make a living? Rhodes exposes the reality of post-Civil War economics, when freed slaves vacated plantations, leaving former slave masters with a need for labor. In doing so, she illuminates a little-known aspect of the Reconstruction Era, when Chinese immigrants were encouraged to come to America and work alongside ex-slaves. Her prose shines, reading with a spare lyricism that flows naturally. All Sugar's hurt, longing, pain and triumph shine through. A magical story of hope from Coretta Scott King Honor winner Rhodes. (Historical fiction. 8-12)

    COPYRIGHT(2013) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • School Library Journal

    June 1, 2013

    Gr 5-8-Through the sharp eyes of a 10-year-old, readers experience the hardship of life on a Louisiana sugar plantation after Emancipation. Clever, courageous, and perceptive, Sugar is basically an orphan. Her mother died, and her father was sold five years before the story begins. She lives alone next door to Mister and Missus Beale, who have become her surrogate parents. Sugar wonders why she still can't do what she wants and why she still must work and live under miserable conditions. When she becomes friendly with Billy Wills, the son of the plantation owner, she can't understand why their friendship must be secret. Her feistiness and sense of loyalty shine in the poignant scenes when she insists on being with Billy when he is sick. When Mr. Wills hires Chinese workers to fill the void left by former slaves going north, Sugar is fascinated by their ways and their stories. She loves the Br'er Rabbit trickster tales Mister Beale tells in which Rabbit outsmarts the seemingly more clever hyena. As in Ninth Ward (Little, Brown, 2010), Rhodes has created a remarkable protagonist as she artfully brings American history to life. She shines a light on bigotry and the difficulty former slave owners and former slaves had adjusting to "freedom," and her skillful prose creates vibrant images of the story's milieu. Above all, though, this beautiful novel instantly grips readers' attention and emotions, holding them until the last word.-Renee Steinberg, formerly at Fieldstone Middle School, Montvale, NJ

    Copyright 2013 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Title Information+
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    Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
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