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Zora and Me Hardcover – October 12, 2010


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 10 and up
  • Grade Level: 5 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 860L (What's this?)
  • Series: Zora and Me
  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Candlewick; First Edition edition (October 12, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0763643009
  • ISBN-13: 978-0763643003
  • Product Dimensions: 7.7 x 5.5 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,123,830 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 4-7–A spirit of gentleness pervades this story, along with an air of mystery and natural magic. The novel is set in Eatonville, FL, and imagines Zora Neale Hurston's life from about fourth to sixth grade. The narrator, Carrie Brown, is probably based on the Carrie Roberts in Hurston's autobiography, Dust Tracks on a Road (1942). Other major players such as Zora's family, Joe Clarke, and the kindly white man who bestowed Zora with the nickname Sniglets, are also drawn from Dust Tracks, and the history of Eatonville. With its combination of adventure, history, and introspection, Zora and Me will work best in classrooms–perhaps where an enticing read-aloud is needed but the audience is somewhat captive–for the times when the narrator sounds more like an adult than an 11-year-old, commenting about how “stories guard the pictures of the selves,” memory can be one-sided, and “good things alone don't make up a person who's real.” The authors have taken great care with historical accuracy, and the book is endorsed by the Zora Neale Hurston Trust. Zora's reputation for tall tales and her urge to see the world are directly tied to the real Hurston's natural storytelling ability and desire to travel. A brief biography, time line, and annotated bibliography are included.–Maggie Knapp, Trinity Valley School, Fort Worth, TXα(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Told in the immediate first-person voice of 10-year-old Carrie, Zora Neale Hurston’s best childhood friend, this first novel is both thrilling and heartbreaking. Each chapter is a story that evokes the famous African American writer’s early years in turn-of-the-last-century Eatonville, Florida, and the sharp, wry vignettes build to a climax, as Carrie and Zora eavesdrop on adults and discover secrets. Family is front and center, but true to Hurston’s work, there is no reverential message: Carrie mourns for her dad, who went to Orlando for work and never came back; Zora’s father is home, but he rejects her for being educated and “acting white,” unlike her favored sister. Racism is part of the story, with occasional use of the n-word in the colloquial narrative. Like Hurston, who celebrated her rich roots but was also a wanderer at heart, this novel of lies and revelations will reach a wide audience, and some strong readers will want to follow up with Hurston’s writings, including Their Eyes Are Watching God (1937). The novel’s back matter includes a short biography of Hurston, an annotated bibliography of her groundbreaking work, and an endorsement by the Zora Neale Hurston Trust. Grades 5-8. --Hazel Rochman

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Customer Reviews

Victoria Bond & T.R. Simon's novel is multifaceted.
Grapes
The book also contains a biography of Zora Neale Hurston, and a timeline of her life.
Teacher-reader
I highly recommend this book for readers in the 5-8th grades.
K. M. Johnson

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Yana V. Rodgers on November 10, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Best friends Zora, Teddy, and Carrie lived happy, carefree lives in the all-black town of Eatonville, Florida. Yet even before that fateful day of Ivory's murder, the children had become mature enough to recognize more of life's complications. Zora, the daughter of a carpenter, faced growing tensions at school with the daughters of the town's professional men. Teddy worked extra hard in school because his older brothers had been pulled out to work the farm when they were that same age. Carrie began to accept that her father, who had disappeared months earlier to look for factory work in Orlando, might never come back.

They met Ivory, a wandering turpentine worker who collected sap from pine trees, out by the woods and enjoyed his singing and company. The next day someone found him murdered on the railroad tracks. The friends could make no sense of this killing until Zora, a born storyteller, conjectured that Mr. Pendir, the old man who lived alone by the marshes, was half gator and half man and had attacked Ivory. After all, only a monster could do what was done to Ivory, and the children were not ready to consider what other evil could have caused that terrifying death.

Drawing on some of the writings and experiences of noted author and anthropologist Zora Neale Hurston, this novel offers a tale of friendship, family ties, and race relations in the early 1900s. A series of economics ideas related to class, employment, migration, and discrimination are entwined into the story to motivate the characters and plot. Readers seeking high quality historical fiction will value this engrossing and provocative book.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By M. Tanenbaum VINE VOICE on October 18, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Zora and Me by debut novelists Victoria Bond and T. R. Simon is one of the most anticipated children's releases this fall. The novel is inspired by the childhood of noted novelist and anthropologist Zora Neale Hurston, perhaps best known for her novel Their Eyes Were Watching God. I must admit that I have never read any of Zora Neale Hurston's novels, and had no preconceived notions about her life and work before reading Zora and Me, but considering that the novel is aimed at middle grade readers, we must assume that they would have little familiarity with Zora Neale Hurston's works either, except perhaps with some of the folktales that she collected, which have been published as children's books.

The authors use Carrie, a fictional best friend of Zora, to narrate the story, which is set in Eatonville, the all-black community in Florida where Zora Neale Hurston grew up, in the year 1900. Zora, even in fourth grade, is famous for her storytelling, or her lying, depending on how you look at it. Or maybe she's just "crazy as a hoot owl," as she is described by one town resident. But when she starts to tell wild stories of their reclusive neighbor Mr. Pendir being half alligator, half man, her classmate Stella has had enough.

"You are too lying," Stella snapped. "You the lyingest girl in town! You are so lying, even when you tell the truth, it comes out a lie!"

But no one cares, since "we all knew that nobody could tell a story better than Zora." In fact the authors give us many clues that Zora is no ordinary child. Carrie tells us that Zora "had a way of giving personality to everything in Eatonville. Flowers alongside the road weren't just flowers. One day they were royal guards saluting us on our walks home...that's how Zora saw things.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By TeensReadToo on November 7, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Two authors, Victoria Bond and T. R. Simon, take on the impressive and creative task of presenting a unique view of well-known author Zora Neale Hurston. Hurston, renowned author of such books as THEIR EYES WERE WATCHING GOD and JONAH'S GOURD VINE, is memorialized in this new fictional version of her childhood. In ZORA AND ME, Bond and Simon attempt to imagine the great storyteller's early years.

The story is told by Carrie, a childhood friend of Zora's. According to Carrie, Zora began her storytelling career as a child and used her talent to fascinate and entertain everyone, both children and adults. Always ready with a tale, Zora's favorites usually seemed to involve the folklore of the area.

Her main tale described in the book focuses on a creature half-gator/half-man thought to stalk victims in the marshes and swamps. When a headless dead man is discovered along the railroad tracks, Zora's imagination soars. She creates a tale combining this recent discovery with other unexplained events that is sure to raise the hairs on many an arm. Young and old in her tiny community are drawn into her story, and everyone fears for their safety.

Readers and fans of the adult Zora Neale Hurston will be captivated by this imaginative portrayal of the young Hurston. It doesn't take much of a leap to believe that this little storyteller could grow to be an award-winning author. Bond and Simon are to be applauded for their efforts.

Reviewed by: Sally Kruger, aka "Readingjunky"
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Janine M. Demanda on July 1, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Generally, I try to pre-read books that I read with my daughter, and on those rare occasions when I don't, I often regret it. That was the case here. For the first half of the book, we had a great time reading it together. The characters were just enough older than my seven year old to fascinate her, and the writing was evocative and engaging. As a fan of Zora Neale Hurston's writings, I was glad of an opportunity to talk about her with my daughter as well as to discuss in more daily detail Eatonville and the context in which it existed.

Then, about halfway through the book, we met Gold. I recognized her as a fellow pass-able mixed blood immediately, although my daughter didn't until I explained. Given my experience with creative mishandlings of mixed bloods, especially of light/passing mixed blood women, I read the rest of the book quickly after my daughter went to sleep that night. I was profoundly disappointed and frustrated. I mean, really? For the crime of being a woman of African descent who could pass as white, Gold gets assigned a craptastically simplistic worldview which includes an essentially narcissistic analysis of racism and passing. As an added bonus, she gets to be the cause of her brother's brutal murder and gets to be exiled by "her own people". Not only are we asked to swallow that mess, but we're also asked to believe that white authorities cooperated with black men in the ruination of a white man {Gold's beau} for the murder of a black man {Gold's brother} in the Jim Crow South.
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