The Parker Inheritance

The Parker Inheritance
Written by Varian Johnson

Publisher’s Summary:
Twelve-year-old Candice Miller is spending the summer in Lambert, South Carolina, in the old house that belonged to her grandmother, who died after being dismissed as city manager for having the city tennis courts dug up looking for buried treasure–but when she finds the letter that sent her grandmother on the treasure hunt, she finds herself caught up in the mystery and, with the help of her new friend and fellow book-worm, Brandon, she sets out to find the inheritance, exonerate her grandmother, and expose an injustice once committed against an African American family in Lambert.

Primary Source Pairing:
Part mystery, part history lesson, The Parker Inheritance is as satisfying as placing down the last piece in a 500 piece puzzle. Candice and Brandon have a lot in common – their love of books, their desire to solve puzzles, and their inquisitive, critical-thinking minds. This is a perfect combination for a decades-long mystery to finally be solved. The narrative of the book goes in between the current day and the past. As Candice and Brandon uncover the pieces of the puzzle, as written out in James Parker’s letter, in the current day, the narrative flashes back to learn more about the cast of characters who surround Reggie Bradley as a young boy and teenager and those who influenced his rise into James Parker.

When Reggie was growing up, the schools in South Carolina were segregated and there were not equal opportunities for all people. African American students went to separate schools with fewer resources. The Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court case in 1954 ruled that school segregation was no longer allowed in public schools. For this primary source pairing, invite students to study the Judgement and order for the Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court case. Encourage students to make textual connections to the many times the Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court case is referenced in the book – start on page 127 when Candice and Brandon are searching for more information on Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court as a puzzle piece in solving the mystery of the Parker Inheritance.

Questions for Discussion:

  • Describe what you see.
  • What do you notice first?
  • How much of the text can you read? What does it say?
  • What do you see that looks strange or unfamiliar?
  • How are the words arranged?
  • What do you notice about the page the writing appears on?
  • What do you see on the page besides writing?
  • What other details can you see?
  • What tools and materials were used to create it?
  • What can you learn from examining this?
  • Cite textual evidence from the book The Parker Inheritance when the Supreme Court ruling is discussed.
  • How did the Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court case change history? How did it change the lives of the characters in the book? Cite textual evidence.

Book Cover and Summary: Follett
“Judgment and order of the Supreme Court for the case” The US National Archives on Flickr:

Related Primary Source Pairings:
I, Too, Am America
Game Changer: John McLendon and the Secret Game

Further Reading:
“‘Forgotten’ no more: Coach and Naismith protégé John McLendon broke color barriers in basketball”: