Parents' Guide to

The Parker Inheritance

By Jan Carr, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 8+

Kids investigate past racist incident in thrilling mystery.

The Parker Inheritance Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this book.

Community Reviews

age 9+

Based on 3 parent reviews

age 11+

Good book

Good, strong book. There are some things, but other than that, it’s perfect! My child loved this book so much. She said it was very interesting .

This title has:

Educational value
Great messages
Great role models
Too much swearing
age 6+

Absolute must read for the summer of 2020

This book has earned it's place on our firm family favorites list. It is an enticing story based on it's mystery alone, but the issues of race, gender, sexuality, bullying and family dynamics are all interspersed with such gentle reasoning that it's a book that teaches without being dogmatic. It's history is necessarily hard to hear in places but in such a way that we should not try to hide from our children - my rule of thumb regarding sensitive subjects is this: "If your child is the same age as a child actually experiencing these issues, then they are not too young to hear about them." I found myself constantly drawing parallels with modern discrimination, oppression and prejudice as the story highlights these issues in the past, and then in the present through the issues the kids face throughout this book. I make a point of seeking out Corretta Scott King medal honorees and those who value diversity in their children's reading, will undoubtedly love this book.

This title has:

Educational value
Great messages
Great role models

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (3 ):
Kids say (4 ):

This page-turning mystery skillfully braids two time periods for maximum suspense, while offering candid, complex portrayals of racial interactions and history. In The Parker Inheritance, the two main kids are smart, savvy, and plucky as they puzzle out a mystery and bring to light a racist incident that reverberated through their town more than half a century ago. Author Varian Johnson does not shy away from difficult issues, and his take on race is nuanced. In the earlier history, some light-skinned blacks opt to pass as white, the African American characters are aware of relative skin shade, and though some fight for school integration, others have strong affection for their all-black schools and communities.

Though the multimillion-dollar prize for solving the puzzle (promised in the found letter) is a somewhat unrealistic fairy tale element, it adds fun, ups the stakes, and spurs suspense. The chapters set in the 1950s provide a compelling history lesson for today's kids. African American readers will recognize themselves and their families in the warm, playful banter and dialogue, and in the exchanges the characters have with the wider world. This vivid story will stick with readers long past the last page.

Book Details

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