Letter From:
Jewell Parker Rhodes

To:  The Women's National Book Association/LA Chapter
          and the Judy Lopez Memorial Foundation

I am so sad not to be with you this evening. But ever since hearing about the Judy Lopez Honor award, I have felt your support and encouragement. I am deeply appreciative. Though a first time children’s author, I have ALWAYS wanted to write for children. I am the adult novelist who never stopped reading children’s literature and aspired to write a book good enough for the best and most challenging audience in the world – children.

In 2005, when Hurricane Katrina hit, I worried and wondered about the children. But it wasn’t until 2008, when Hurricane Ike was bearing down upon New Orleans, that I thought, “Oh, no, not again.” My sleep was filled with troubling dreams. When I woke Lanesha’s voice was inside my head. I wrote the first line of Ninth Ward came to me: “They say I was born with a caul…” Finally, I had Lanesha’s voice. I needed her voice to begin writing; and, so I wrote, keeping the journey very private. When I was done, I knew I had achieved my heart’s desire -- a children’s book.

Recognition as a Judy Lopez Memorial Honor Book makes me so proud. It encourages me to keep writing and to continue striving for quality. Thank you for inspiring me.

Jewell Parker Rhodes