This middle school chapter book features Zora Neale Hurston and her best friend as 4th graders. Set in Hurston’s hometown of Eatonville, Fla., the novel paints a picture of life in this all-black township, incorporated soon after emancipation. The story shows how love, cultural affirmation, and resiliency permeate the children’s lives, even as the horrors of racism in the world beyond penetrate the warm embrace of the community. The linguistic beauty and the book’s historical and analytical depth honor the quality of Zora Neale Hurston’s work. This is the only book not written by Hurston herself that is endorsed by the Zora Neale Hurston Trust. The book offers vivid language and numerous passages that can serve as writing prompts or examples for students. It is an easy-to-read yet sophisticated chapter book for middle and high school students. --Rethinking Schools
Winner of the 2011 John Steptoe New Talent (Author) Award!
Racial duplicity threatens an idyllic African American community in the turn-of-the-century South in a dazzling debut inspired by the early life of Zora Neale Hurston.
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. Zora’s best friend, Carrie, narrates this coming-of-age story set in the Eden-like town of Eatonville, Florida, where justice isn’t merely an exercise in retribution, but a testimony to the power of community, love, and pride. A fictionalization of the early years of a literary giant, this astonishing novel is the first project ever to be endorsed by the Zora Neale Hurston Trust that was not authored by Hurston herself.
About the Author
Victoria Bond and T. R. Simon 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. Excited and humbled by the opportunity to expose young readers to a seminal figure in twentieth-century American letters, they discovered that Zora’s life as both field anthropologist and writer custom fit their own backgrounds. T. R. (Tanya) Simon has an MA in anthropology, while Victoria Bond holds an MFA in creative writing.