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Winner of the 2011 Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent Award from the American Library Association

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.


Candlewick Press – October 12, 2010

Endorsed by the Zora Neale Hurston Trust.

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.

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.

Praise for ZORA AND ME

World Book Night 2014 Selection

Winner of the 2011 Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent Award from the American Library Association

Nominated for the Edgar Award for Best Juvenile

Fall 2010 Indie Next Pick

Kirkus Reviews Best of 2010 Children and Teens Books

New York Public Library 2010 Pick: 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing

Junior Library Guild Selection

ABC 2010 New Voices Selection

SIBA 2010 Okra Award Winner

Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award

Children’s Literature Assembly 2011 Notable Children’s Book in the Language Arts

SIBA 2011 Book Award Finalist

Audie Awards Finalist in the Teen Category

“The brilliance of this novel is its rendering of African-American child life during the Jim Crow era as a time of wonder and imagination, while also attending to its harsh realities. Absolutely outstanding.“—Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review

“Thrilling and heartbreaking.“—Booklist, Starred Review

“Evokes a world of un-self-conscious blackness and children steeped in games and fantasy in a moral, tightknit community.“—The New York Times

“One of the best children’s books of the year.“—Essence

“What a joy! Victoria Bond and T.R. Simon have taken the best of Zora Neale Hurston and made something even better! Zora was a wonderful woman and now we see she was an awesome child, also. A great summer read but an even better winter’s tale around the fire. I’m so glad I’m still a child so I can enjoy, without apology, Zora and Me.“—Nikki Giovanni

“A spirit of gentleness pervades this story, along with an air of mystery and natural magic.“—School Library Journal

“The authors’ language catches the time and place…The story is insightful about the emotional needs of characters young and old.“—Chicago Tribune

“An adventure story featuring Hurston as a kind of ‘girl detective.’“—USA Today

“Debut authors Bond and Simon do their subject proud, spinning a tale about the childhood of writer Zora Neale Hurston, who ‘didn’t have any trouble telling a fib or stretching a story for fun.’ …the authors adeptly evoke a racially fraught era and formative events—whether they’re true or true enough—in Hurston’s youth.“—Publishers Weekly

“Move over, Nancy Drew. There’s a new girl sleuth in town: a fourth-grader named Zora Neale Hurston. Vividly imagined…This mystery not only thrills and chills but vibrantly evokes a small Southern town in the early 20th century.“—The Washington Post

“Zora’s a writer. Thankfully, Victoria Bond and T.R. Simon are writers too, and gifted, generous ones at that; their re-imagined, fourth-grade incarnation of the Harlem Renaissance author Zora Neale Hurston never seems to drag under the weight of biographical significance or historical fiction.“—Los Angeles Review of Books

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