This week, the Zora Neale Hurston Organization is hosting its annual Zora Neale Hurston Festival in Eatonville, Florida. This is the 25th year of the festival and it is a week-long celebration with workshops, activities, and other events. I mention this festival as a segue into my review of the children’s book, Zora and Me.
Zora and Me, written by Victoria Simon and T.R. Simon, imagines the childhood of Zora in Eatonville, Florida. The story is narrated by Carrie and Zora’s storytelling gives Carrie plenty to say. When a decapitated body is found on a railroad track, Zora creates a believable yet scary story that she is willing to tell anyone who wants to hear it. In fact, Zora also believes she knows the murderer, and, recruiting Carrie and her friend Teddy, goes to many lengths to prove her theory.
Zora and Me is beautifully written, with Carrie’s voice that draws one into the mystery. Carrie and Teddy are fully developed characters and just the right friends for the imaginative Zora. Other characters are developed, too, and the issues of race, particularly passing, racism, poverty, and equality are woven carefully in the story as the mystery unfolds and reveals the killer.
Zora and Me has won a few awards, including the The Coretta Scott King-John Steptoe New Talent Award.
A discussion guide and lesson plans are available for this book. The discussion guide can be accessed by clicking here: http://www.candlewick.com/book_files/0763643009.bdg.1.pdf
The lesson plan, and other resources can be found on The Teaching Books.Net: http://www.teachingbooks.net/tb.cgi?tid=21622&a=1
Zora and Me, 192 pages. Hardcover: 978-0763643003; Paperback: 978-0763658144 Grades 5 and up.