Thursday, June 24, 2010

Zora & Me

Zora and Me by Victoria Bond & T.R. Simon
to be published in October 2010 by Candlewick

Adventure, mystery, coming of age story, and historical fiction, not to mention wonderful writing and strong characters, make Zora and Me one of the best middle grade books I've read in a while. This is not a book I merely liked, Zora and Me deserves much more than that. It has a future in classrooms, being used to help children understand race in America in the early 20th century, while still being an enjoyable and compelling read. Zora and Me is endorsed by the Zora Neale Hurston Trust and a lot of indie booksellers are getting behind it - for good reason. I really wouldn't be surprised if Zora and Me received a number of award nominations.

Carrie, our narrator, is sweet and sure. Though she believes Zora's stories, she doesn't embroider what she observes to quite the extent that Zora does. The narrative begins with Zora's story of a man with a gator head. With the addition of events, from an old woman getting hurt by the swimming hole to a man found dead by the railroad tracks, all the events orbit around Zora's story of a gator man. But real world explanations are more complex than a gator man, and Zora, Carrie, and Teddy must find a way to understand the differences between white lies, truth, and fiction.

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