about the book
You know the type of kid. He’s geeky, strange, and seems to be totally out of it. He’s been that way his whole life. Zachary, or Z, has always been at the very bottom of the school’s social ladder. Heck, he’s not even allowed to touch the ladder! How does he cope with always being the brunt of the bullies? He simply and totally exists in another world.
Ella, on the other hand, is very aware of what is going on. She knows that she is at the bottom of the pecking order, too, and she hates it. Called Camo Face because her features are mottled with lighter and darker brown, she is the only black in the all-white school. Okay, she’s not really black. She’s biracial. That doesn’t make any difference to the mean kids.
Ella and Z have always been best friends. Feisty Ella protects Z as best she can, although that often means she ends up wearing a mess of cafeteria spaghetti. It happens so often that she keeps two changes of clothes in her school locker.
Suddenly, things change when a new transfer student enters their sixth grade class. Bailey is handsome, popular…and black! And he notices Ella. He even seems to be attracted to Ella! Is this her chance to become someone else? For once, can she have real friends, feel real respect, and not be frightened of what is going to go down the next second?
But there is one problem: Z will never change. Z will always be Z, and he expects her to always be his Lady Eleanor. None of the other students will ever accept the reality-challenged Z. Can she really let this lifelong friend become an ex-friend?
Kekla started writing The Rock and the River during grad school and developed it into her creative thesis. She was rejected by three editors and two publishing houses because she wouldn’t agree to their revisions. She held true to her own vision!
She was born early one morning in Michigan, and was named Kekla, meaning “morning star” in her father’s native language, Bassa. Kekla is biracial—her mother is American and white, and her black father is from Cameroon, Africa. Kekla spent several years living in Cameroon before moving to Fort Wayne, Indiana.
Kekla studied history at Northwestern University and has a master’s degree in Writing for Children from the Vermont College of Fine Arts. After she graduated, she moved to New York City and worked with at-risk kids in Harlem.
Kekla spends her time writing and is co-editor of young adult and children’s literature for the online Hunger Mountain Arts Journal.
Also by Kekla Magoon:
Fire in the Streets. Aladdin. 2012.
Cesar Chavez : Crusader for Labor Rights (Essential Lives). Essential Library. 2011.
The Rock and the River. Aladdin. 2009.
Zebulon Pike Expedition (Essential Events). Essential Library. 2009.
Nelson Mandela : A Leader for Freedom (Essential Lives). Essential Library. 2008.
Salem Witch Trials (Essential Events). Essential Library. 2009.
Abraham Lincoln (Essential Lives). Essential Library. 2008.
Fire in the Streets by Kekla Magoon
Maxie wants to be a Black Panther. It is 1968, and summertime in Chicago is hot and dangerous. Maxie believes in the Black Panther movement, but everyone says she is too young. Maxie helps out in the office, though—and it’s a good thing she does, because she uncovers a traitor in their midst. However, when she finds out the truth, it may change her entire world.
The Other Half of My Heart by Sundee T. Frazier
Biracial twins Keira and Minna have very different skin tones and personalities, but it is not until their African American grandmother enters them in the Miss Black Pearl Pre-Teen competition in North Carolina that pale- skinned Minna realizes what life in their small town in the Pacific Northwest has been like for her more outgoing, darker-skinned sister.
Take Me With You by Carolyn Marsden
Pina and Susanna, abandoned as babies to the nuns at the orphanage, have been best friends all their lives. With the end of the war, couples are coming to the orphanage hoping to adopt a child. Susanna knows that pretty Pina will be one of the first to go. A mulatta, Susanna’s chances at a true home are far less likely.