Discussion Questions: Bayou Magic

About the book

Bayou Magic by Jewell Parker Rhodes, a Coretta Scott King honor author, is this year’s middle-grade selection. In a magical coming-of-age story, Rhodes creates a world rich with Southern folklore, friendship, family, fireflies and mermaids, plus an environmental twist.

Bayou Magic

About the author

Jewell Parker Rhodes is the author of Ghost BoysTowers Falling, and the Louisiana Girls Trilogy: Ninth WardSugar, and Bayou Magic. Her middle-grade books have won the Coretta Scott King Honor, the Jane Addams Children’s Book Award, and more. She is also the Virginia G. Piper Endowed Chair in Creative Writing at Arizona State University, and has written many award-winning books for adults.

Discussion questions

  1. Grandmère tells Maddy “Do good and it’ll fly right back to you.” What does this phrase mean? How is it seen in the community of Bon Temps? How do you see it in your community?
  2. When Grandmère asks Maddy who she wants to be, Maddy replies: a hero. Does she become a hero or does she allow the mermaids to become heroes?
  3. Grandmère says that one can only become a hero when something bad happens. Do you agree or disagree with that statement? What are ways you could become a hero for the environment in your community?
  4. Who is Mami Wata? What is her place in Maddy’s family history?
  5. The book's author, Jewell Parker Rhodes, gives three reasons for the disappearance of the wetlands. What are they?
  6. If the building of levees plays a part in erosion of the wetlands, how can the mermaids’ construction of levees help the situation?