I’m BAAACCCKK!! So after a very long time of dead silence on my end, I finally have found time to get back to some blogging. Mostly, I’ve found time to get back to some organized reading more than anything else. And in honor of Black History Month, I’ve decided to look at authors and illustrators who have been winners or honors of the Coretta Scott King Award. I’m going to start off with a book I’ve been looking forward to reading since it hit our shelves, Zora and Me by Victoria Bond and T.R. Simon.
This is the only project ever to be endorsed by the Zora Neale Hurston trust that was written by someone other than Zora Neale Hurston. It is a fantastic story about a young Zora and her two friends, Carrie and Teddy. The story is told from Carrie’s point of view, which adds to the readers view of Zora. We are given insights and thoughts about her from her friend’s perspective, it adds more depth to her character than a first person narrative by Zora would have. It also is in true form to Ms. Hurston, an aloof character in African-American literary history whose impact is still felt today.
The story is set in Eatonville, Florida, which was the first incorporated African-American town in the United States, and the actual location of Zora Neale Hurston’s childhood. “Gator Mythology” is in full swing in this story, as well as the storytelling prowess and creativity that Zora would produce in her published writing later life. Zora is seen as a “liar” and “tale spinner” by everyone except for those who know her best (Carrie, Teddy, Zora’s mother, etc.) who realize that Zora interprets the world around her the best that she knows how. And, most of the time, her stories not only make sense but are true, if one digs deep enough.
This story is very multi-layered. It has a fun side with the friendship between the three main characters and their want for adventure of any kind in their small town. It deals with racial issues when the neighboring white settlement and Eatonville need to interact in any way. It deals with loss, as Carrie struggles to deal with the disappearance of her father. It looks at identity issues as the character of Gold comes to grips with her true self upon the loss of her brother. Finally, it deals with outlook, as the three children discover that people are not always what they appear; there is always something more to another human being than what people take for granted.
A great book with a bit of mystery, intrigue, mythology, fantasy, and history all rolled into one. I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in the writing of Zora Neale Hurston or anyone who may be interested in a good mystery.
Author: Victoria Bond & T.R. Simon
Awards: Coretta Scott King Award
Ages: Grades 3-5
Publisher: Candlewick Press, Crawfordsville, IN