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Jewell Parker Rhodes (The Children's Book Podcast #601)

Jewell Parker Rhodes (@jewell_p_rhodes) shares BLACK BROTHER, BLACK BROTHER. In her new middle grade novel, Jewell explores colorism, the school-to-prison pipeline, the history of Alexandre Dumas, and the sport of fencing. Donte and Trey are brothers, but Donte’s skin is dark, like his mom’s, and most new people have a hard time believing that they’re brothers, especially because Trey’s skin is light. Donte’s school, it’s fair to say, labels him as a problem because of the color of his skin. The people in Donte’s life all play critical roles in his survival, for help or for harm, and when Jewell weaves fencing and an Olympic medaled coach into the whole mix, what results is a moving and thoughtful story about race, dignity, and family.

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From award-winning and bestselling author, Jewell Parker Rhodes comes a powerful coming-of-age story about two brothers, one who presents as white, the other as black, and the complex ways in which they are forced to navigate the world, all while training for a fencing competition. Sometimes, 12-year-old Donte wishes he were invisible. As one of the few black boys at Middlefield Prep, most of the students don't look like him. They don't like him either. Dubbing him "Black Brother," Donte's teachers and classmates make it clear they wish he were more like his lighter-skinned brother, Trey. When he's bullied and framed by the captain of the fencing team, "King" Alan, he's suspended from school and arrested for something he didn't do. Terrified, searching for a place where he belongs, Donte joins a local youth center and meets former Olympic fencer Arden Jones. With Arden's help, he begins training as a competitive fencer, setting his sights on taking down the fencing team captain, no matter what. As Donte hones his fencing skills and grows closer to achieving his goal, he learns the fight for justice is far from over. Now Donte must confront his bullies, racism, and the corrupt systems of power that led to his arrest. Powerful and emotionally gripping, Black Brother, Black Brother is a careful examination of the school-to-prison pipeline and follows one boy's fight against racism and his empowering path to finding his voice.



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