Thursday, April 14, 2011

Love This: Zora and Me by Victoria Bond & T.R. Simon

About The Book:

Whether she’s telling the truth or stretching it, Zora Neale Hurston is a riveting storyteller. Her latest creation is a shape-shifting gator man who lurks in the marshes, waiting to steal human souls. But when boastful Sonny Wrapped loses a wrestling match with an elusive alligator named Ghost -- and a man is found murdered by the railroad tracks soon after -- young Zora’s tales of a mythical evil creature take on an ominous and far more complicated complexion, jeopardizing the peace and security of an entire town and forcing three children to come to terms with the dual-edged power of pretending. -Candlewick Press

First Line: "It's funny how you can be in a story but not realize until the end that you were in one."

One Great Line: "We hopped and skipped like coal embers were grazing our toes right through our shoes" (76).

Memorable Quote: "But good things alone don't make up a person who's real. For someone to be real in my heart and my head, I have take the good about them with the bad...I knew my father use to do things that bothered me...I just couldn't remember them. That's when I knew he wasn't real to me anymore, that he had been gone too long..." (71)

What kids are saying: "Always leaving the reader wondering what will happen next, each page of the book brings surprise and mystery. This was one of my favorite things about Zora and Me. The authors succeed in making the book feel like someone is whispering the story in your ear—as if you were involved in each event."  Maxwell Smith  More here.

Zora Neale Hurston
What Others Are Saying:
"It is with sheer genius that Bond and Simon have created something for readers young and old--there are familiar references, like the ‘Brazzles,’ for true Zora-philes, as well as revelatory and wondrous information for those readers as yet uninitiated in the masterful storytelling of Zora Neale Hurston. This is a grand and accessible work that educates, informs, and entertains, and one that I am personally grateful was written for all of us."
--LUCY ANNE HURSTON, niece of Zora Neale Hurston

“Anthropology and storytelling went hand-in-hand for Zora Neale Hurston in a way that deepened her affection for humanity when it could just as easily have made her a misanthrope for that reason alone, I think that her story is a story well worth relating to children. And then, behind the scenes there are two writers—best friends working poetry and weaving a portrait in an astonishing, seamless literary marriage.”
Mary Lee Donovan, executive editor.

What I Thought:  When I first read The Bluest Eye and I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings , I realized I had heard a new voice, one that was absent from my white middle-class upbringing. I hungered to hear it again and went on to read more. What I love about Zora and Me is the fact that it brings this voice to a new generation. The authenticity of Zora's story as told through Carrie is amazing. Just read one of Hurston's short stories and then compare it. It isn't difficult to see how the Zora in Zora and Me could grow to be the author Zora Neale Hurston. There are vivid images reminiscent of Hurston's work. I am looking forward to the next book in the trilogy. 

My Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥  If I didn't like it I wouldn't review it.

The Mystery writers of America Edgar Award Nominee
Coretta Scott King- John Steptoe New Talent Award
Junior Library Guild Selection
ABC 2010 New Voices Selection
SIBA 2010 Okra Award Winner
Fall 2010 Indie Next Top Ten Pick
Winner of Audiofile Earphones Award
Kirkus Reviews - Best Children's Books of the Year 
Endorsed by the Zora Neale Hurston Trust

About The Authors: Victoria Bond & T.R.Simon

Agent: Victoria Sanders
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Website: Zora And Me

Who: T. R. (Tanya) Simon has an MA in anthropology, while Victoria Bond holds an MFA in creative writing.

How: "The authors met ten years ago while working together in publishing and became fast friends. After kicking around the idea of a collaboration for years, the idea of writing a middle-grade novel about Zora Neale Hurston emerged, and both knew they had stumbled into the project of their dreams." Candlewick Press

What inspired Zora and Me?  When Simon, a New York literary agent, was pregnant about four years ago, she was thought about all the books that her daughter would read.
       Simon said that as a child, she loved, "Caddie Woodlawn" by Carol Ryrie Brink's. The novel is about a 19th century frontier tomboy, "even better than Tom Sawyer…I wanted to give my daughter a black protagonist who was equally fearless and self-loving." USA Today-More here.

Interesting Fact: 
According to Cooperative Children's Book Center about 5,000 children’s books were published in the United States in 2009, and 157 featured major black characters.
Zora and Me is the first novel endorsed by the Zora Neale Hurston Trust.


  1. It's wonderful to read a review like this; First Line, One Great Line, etc. I love how you presented the authors and gave us some details about them. It does sound like a great book.

  2. That is an interesting fact about the characters in the books. It is awesome that they are going to have a chance to tell their story.

  3. Your blog is fun and informative. Thanks for joining my following. I'm happy to join yours and make a new friend.

  4. I enjoyed the review. Sounds like a great read

  5. I loved the first line. It is so true

    L is for Lies: Flash Fiction

  6. This sounds like a wonderful book (and I love the way you reviewed it). What age range is the book for? I have a couple of nephews and am wondering if it would make a good Christmas present.

  7. Thanks for your comments. Book reviews are hard and often don't get many comments. I have worried mine were too lengthy. I am reviewing the book like a writer and these are the things I am looking for. @Helen Ginger I read your article on Blood-Red Pencil disclaimers. Those were some pretty creative ones. I will soon be adding them to my reviews, had no idea that it was required.

  8. Your review makes me want to read the book. Still waiting for a Kindle which will make access easier. We'll see...


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