I must admit that my introduction to Zora Neale Hurston came well after I had completed my studies to become an English teacher. I happened across a worn copy of THEIR EYES WERE WATCHING GOD in a discount book store. I fell into the book and emerged enthralled. How could I have taken so many classes in literature and never met this person? How could this have been left to chance?
Now, ZORA AND ME by Victoria Bond and T. R. Simon (Candlewick Press 2010) ensures that never will it be left to chance again. In this slim novel, readers meet a young Zora an d her best friends Carrie and Teddy. Already Zora is gaining some reputation (and not always a good one at that) for her ability to weave tales to enchant and entertain and stun her classmates. What Zora has already become adept at doing is listening in when she should not: hearing the gossip of the adult community around her and using those tidbits to create a story that is almost plausible but with plenty of "elaboration." And in this book we begin to see the themes that Hurston will continue to address in her writing: family, home, racism. love, impermanence.
Having met this imagined Hurston within the pages of ZORA AND ME should lead readers to want to know more about the author. Back matter in the novel will lead readers to a bibliography and a chronology of Hurston's life. <450>
POSSIBLE READING LADDERS:
ZORA AND ME
THE NEGRO SPEAKS OF RIVERS (CSKing Honor for illustrations by E B White)
MY PEOPLE (CSKing Honor for illustrations by Charles Smith)
VISTING LANGSTON by Willie Perdomo and Bryan Collier
see also the list of adaptations of Hurston's work in the appended matter of ZORA AND ME