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Annotation: In 1870, Reconstruction brings big changes to the Louisiana sugar plantation where spunky ten-year-old Sugar has always lived, including her friendship with Billy, the son of her former master, and the arrival of workmen from China.
Catalog Number: #83706
Format: Perma-Bound Edition
All Formats: Search
Common Core/STEAM: Common Core Common Core
Copyright Date: 2013
Edition Date: 2014
Pages: 272 pages
Availability: Available
ISBN: Publisher: 0-316-04306-0 Perma-Bound: 0-605-82263-8
ISBN 13: Publisher: 978-0-316-04306-9 Perma-Bound: 978-0-605-82263-4
Dewey: Fic
LCCN: 2012026218
Dimensions: 20 cm.
Language: English
ALA Booklist
Ten-year-old Sugar, named after the cane she sharecrops with other freed people, hates her name. It makes her think of her father being sold off into slavery, her mother who died from the hard work in the fields, and her own life of toil. She would rather be playing, but she is the last little one around after all the other young people left the plantation to live in the North. However, her own way of life is threatened once she learns through her verboten friendship with the plantation owner's son that his father plans to bring in labor from China. Rhodes creates a unique cultural snapshot of Reconstruction Era Louisiana by introducing Chinese immigrants to the mix. Drawing inspiration from Lucy M. Cohen's Chinese in the Post Civil War South (1984), Rhodes creates a cross-cultural exchange that includes trickster tales, food appreciation, and good old-fashioned friendship. Sugar is an appealing, adventurous heroine full of curiosity and joy, an element sorely needed in light of the heavy subject.
Horn Book
Ten-year-old Sugar is increasingly lonely as the other families move away from the brutal work of the sugarcane plantation for a better life in the North. In this novel set in Recontruction-era Lousiana, Rhodes vividly depicts Sugar's experiences and emotions as well as her endearing feistiness, realistically shifting moods, and capacity for friendship.
Publishers Weekly
If Catcher in the Rye has lost its raw clout for recent generations of Internet-suckled American youth, here is a coming-of-age novel to replace it. Instead of running away, the pretentious narrator of this updated version of Salinger-s bildungsroman travels headlong back home to claim the town where he came of age. After his first year at a never-named college back East (bearing a striking resemblance to Harvard, Lytal-s own alma mater), Jim Praley returns to Tulsa. On his first visit to a local bar, he reconnects with a woman he went to high school with, who invites him to a birthday party. There he meets the beguiling Adrienne Booker, muse of the local teen set, a rich high school dropout who lives alone in her family-s downtown penthouse. Adrienne sings, smokes, drinks, and doesn-t drink-that alcohol is both not important and abused is rather subversive-and has sex with Jim on the night they meet. In spite of a vow to spend the summer reading classic literature, Jim falls hard for Adrienne, spending days on end teaching her the art history he remembers from his freshman course and watching her paint. After that mythic summer, and a chapter chronicling Jim-s brief literary career in New York, a motorcycle accident draws Jim back to Tulsa to witness Adrienne-s ruination firsthand. Although the doomed girl is the focus of Jim-s obsession, the strength of this debut novel is Lytal-s evocation of place: Tulsa through Jim-s eyes is tenderly revealed. There is magic here if the reader has experienced any such provincial city, for the prose provokes remembered images, acutely vivid. Agent: Edward Orloff, McCormick & Williams Literary Agency. (Apr.)

School Library Journal
Gr 5&11;8&12; 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.&12; Renee Steinberg, formerly at Fieldstone Middle School, Montvale, NJ
Starred Review for Kirkus Reviews
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)
Word Count: 34,852
Reading Level: 2.9
Interest Level: 3-6
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 2.9 / points: 4.0 / quiz: 158360 / grade: Middle Grades
Reading Counts!: reading level:2.4 / points:9.0 / quiz:Q60743
Lexile: 430L
Guided Reading Level: U
Fountas & Pinnell: U

From Jewell Parker Rhodes, the author of Towers Falling and Ninth Ward (a Coretta Scott King Honor Book and a Today show Al's Book Club for Kids pick) comes a 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.

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