Title: Zora and Me
Authors: Victoria Bond and T.R. Simon
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Concepts: economic class, jobs, migration, discrimination, racial inequality, social justice, poverty.
Review: Best friends Zora, Teddy, and Carrie lived happy, carefree lives in the all-black town of Eatonville, Florida. Yet even before that fateful day of Ivory's murder, the children had become mature enough to recognize more of life's complications. Zora, the daughter of a carpenter, faced growing tensions at school with the daughters of the town's professional men. Teddy worked extra hard in school because his older brothers had been pulled out to work the farm when they were that same age. Carrie began to accept that her father, who had disappeared months earlier to look for factory work in Orlando, might never come back.
They met Ivory, a wandering turpentine worker who collected sap from pine trees, out by the woods and enjoyed his singing and company. The next day someone found him murdered on the railroad tracks. The friends could make no sense of this killing until Zora, a born storyteller, conjectured that Mr. Pendir, the old man who lived alone by the marshes, was half gator and half man and had attacked Ivory. After all, only a monster could do what was done to Ivory, and the children were not ready to consider what other evil could have caused that terrifying death.
Drawing on some of the writings and experiences of noted author and anthropologist Zora Neale Hurston, this novel offers a tale of friendship, family ties, and race relations in the early 1900s. A series of economics ideas related to class, employment, migration, and discrimination are entwined into the story to motivate the characters and plot. Readers seeking high quality historical fiction will value this engrossing and provocative book.
Review by: Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children