Friday 20 April 2018

ReadItDaddy's Chapter Book of the Week - Week Ending 20th April 2018 - "Ghost Boys" by Jewell Parker Rhodes (Orion) @orionbooks

Our Chapter Book of the Week this week is one of the most thought-provoking middle grade reads we've encountered in a long time, and couldn't be more timely if it tried...
With the recent school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland Florida, a lot of parents will have been fielding some pretty tough questions from their middle grade and older kids over the last few months. Not difficult to see why when gun crime and the ridiculous gun laws in the US are never far from the headlines.

Though this book is very clearly about more than just guns. It's a soaring, brutal and heart-wrenching look at race and the continual problem of police brutality not just in the US but across the world.

"Ghost Boys" tells the story of Jerome. He's 12, doesn't get into trouble, he dutifully does his school work and is a perfect big brother to his little sister.

But sadly, Jerome is shot dead by a police officer who mistakes his toy gun for a real one (sadly, a story that echoes many, many real-life situations across the States).

Jerome is dead, but continues to watch over his family as a ghost.

But then Jerome notices all the other ghost boys too, each with their own story to tell, and each with something in common - passing way way before their time was due, and bound together by their sheer numbers.

There are so many moments in this book where you find yourself holding your breath, reading huge swathes of it at a time barely breathing, listening to the voice echoing from the pages, punctuated only by the loudness of your own heartbeat, beating sorrow or anger at Jerome's story that feels all too real despite its supernatural underpinnings.

Jewell Parker Rhodes has expertly woven a story that is a gripping and vital read for middle graders, and it's the sort of book that we truly hope finds its way into a lot of children's hands across the pond. Change can happen, change takes time but it always starts with an idea, a spark - or perhaps even a book like this that tells its heartfelt tale so well.

Utterly spellbinding.

"Ghost Boys" by Jewell Parker Rhodes is out now, published by Orion Children's Books (kindly supplied for review).