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Thursday, March 21, 2019

7th MMGM: Zora & Me Series (review & giveaway)

Welcome to Day 16 of the 7th Annual March MG Madness! Click here to see the full schedule and links to other days.

Zora and Me 
(Zora & Me #1) 
By Victoria Bond and T.R. Simon 
October 12, 2010 
Candlewick Press 

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. 

The Cursed Ground 
(Zora & Me #2) 
By T.R. Simon 
September 11, 2018 
Candlewick Press 
A powerful fictionalized account of Zora Neale Hurston's childhood adventures explores the idea of collective memory and the lingering effects of slavery. 

"History ain't in a book, especially when it comes to folks like us. History is in the lives we lived and the stories we tell each other about those lives." 

When Zora Neale Hurston and her best friend, Carrie Brown, discover that the town mute can speak after all, they think they've uncovered a big secret. But Mr. Polk's silence is just one piece of a larger puzzle that stretches back half a century to the tragic story of an enslaved girl named Lucia. As Zora's curiosity leads a reluctant Carrie deeper into the mystery, the story unfolds through alternating narratives. Lucia's struggle for freedom resonates through the years, threatening the future of America's first incorporated black township -- the hometown of author Zora Neale Hurston (1891-1960). In a riveting coming-of-age tale, award-winning author T. R. Simon champions the strength of a people to stand up for justice. 

Review originally posted here. 

The Zora & Me series, which includes book one, Zora & Me, and book two, The Cursed Ground, is a fictionalized account of the childhood of famous writer Zora Neale Hurston during the turn of the 20th century. Each book in the series is narrated by Carrie Brown, best friend to fictionalized Zora, and takes place in the very real Eatonville, Florida, the first all African-American established and inhabited town in the USA (where the real Zora lived).  

 Both Zora & Me books offer readers complex mysteries with immense impacts on their characters and history. In book one, Zora & Me, Carrie and Zora find themselves wrapped up in a murder mystery that may or may not involve an alligator man. While in book two, The Cursed Ground, Carrie and Zora uncover a mystery that stretches back to the horrific times of slavery, and the story switches back and forth from Carrie’s POV in their present to the POV of an enslaved girl named Lucia.  

 This series shines a light on an often overlooked and dismissed era and community, bringing the joys, obstacles, and daily lives of African Americans during this time period (and throughout history) to life, and celebrating the history, culture, and achievements of this community and people.  With an authentic and unwavering voice, these stories offer captivating and exciting mysteries, while deftly exploring themes of racism, poverty, slavery, family, friendship, and community.  Young Zora is a dazzling, delightful, and larger than life character, with a beautiful imagination. 

 With wonderful storytelling, rich history, and engaging characters, this series is sure to inspire, move, and entertain young readers. 

T.R. Simon is a children’s book author. Her novel, Zora and Me, co-written with Victoria Bond, won the Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe Award for New Talent and was nominated for an Edgar Award in the category of Juvenile Fiction. Zora and Me was also a Junior Library Guild Selection, ABC New Voices Selection, SIBA Okra Award Winner, Fall Indie Next Top Ten Pick, Kirkus Best of 2010 Children's Books, Booklist 2010 Editor's Choice, The New York Public Library 2010 list of 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing, the Winner of an AudioFile Earphones Award, and a 2014 World Book Night U.S. pick. She is also the co-author with her husband, Richard Simon, of Oskar And The Eight Blessings, winner of the National Jewish Book Award for children's literature and named a 2015 best children's book by the Miami Herald, a Jewish Telegraph Agency's 5 Best Books for Hanukkah in 2015, a Junior Library Guild 2015 picture book selection. Her latest book, Zora and Me: The Cursed Ground, a Junior Library Guild Selection, has received starred reviews from Kirkus, Horn Books, School Library Journal, and Shelf Awareness.    T.R. Simon holds an M.A. in cultural anthropology and is an adjunct lecturer at the City University of New York Publishing Certificate Program where she teaches a course on children’s book publishing.  She and her husband live in Westchester County, New York with their daughter, and very cuddly dog. 

Win 1 of 5 copies of
Zora & Me: The Cursed Ground!
Candlewick has generously offered five copies for five winners.
-must 18+
-no PO boxes
-ends 4/5/19
-winners will be emailed and must claim prize within 48 hours
-Word Spelunking is not responsible for lost, damaged, stolen prizes

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Danielle H. said...

The idea of collective memory is intriguing and I've never read a book that explored this idea before, so this is going to be exciting to read.

Brenda said...

The opening lines of Cursed Ground really have stuck with me, "There are two kinds of memory. One is the ordinary kind, rooted in things that happened, people you knew, and places you went.... The second type of memory is rooted in the things you live with, the land you live on, the history of where you belong." Fantastic book!!

Slowsly said...

Zora sounds like an interesting person. I look forward to reading both books.

Dan Denman said...

I like the artwork of both book covers. I think I will like the characters and their stories.