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This accessible biography introduces Zora Neale Hurston's remarkable life and work to a new generation of readers. As a child in Eatonville, Florida, self-confident Hurston believed the moon followed her. Organized chronologically, the Fradins' book follows Hurston's bumpy yet fascinating career as she moves from Florida to NYC and into the exciting world of the Harlem Renaissance. Hurston wandered for the majority of her life, including a long stint traveling through the South collecting lies (folktales). In spite of her struggles with poverty, she was determined to become a successful writer but she never saw fortune in her lifetime. When she died, in 1960, her books were out of print; Hurston's works were rediscovered in the late 1970s, and Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937) is now considered a seminal work of African American literature. Clearly written text and period photos paint a picture of a larger-than-life, spirited woman and the times in which she lived. Two of Hurston's collected lies, along with a time line, source notes, bibliography, and index, round out this portrait of an American luminary.--Kelley, Ann Copyright 2010 Booklist
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This accessible and entertaining biography of the gifted, energetic, and ambitious African-American author of Their Eyes Were Watching God engages the dreams, challenges, and accomplishments of Hurston, who garnered some recognition during her lifetime, but achieved fame only after her death. Beginning with a striking scene of the 59-year-old Hurston, already a well-known author, working as a white family's domestic helper because she needed a paycheck, the Fradins (Stolen into Slavery) establish the complexities of Zora's inner and external worlds, before offering highlights of her life in chronological order. These include her idyllic childhood in the all-black town of Eatonville, Fla.-where she read books, played baseball, and listened to "lying sessions" (storytelling) at the general store-as well as her decade spent as a working college student, her tumultuous friendship with Langston Hughes, literary ventures, anthropological research, three short-lived marriages, and late-life poverty. Photographs of family, friends, and patrons (including one of Zora and her car, "Sassy Susie") add resonance, as does her own voice, in quotations from letters and her autobiography. Zora's creative, hopeful, and complicated personality shines through this compelling profile. Ages 9-12. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
School Library Journal
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Gr 5-8-This biography begins with Hurston as a middle-aged woman. Working as a maid to make ends meet, she is "found out" and spins tales about both her age and the reasons behind her domestic servitude. This well-chosen episode succinctly captures the legendary author's colorful spirit-her mischievous penchant for lying about her age and ever cash-poor status, but undying desire to write and publish. These themes are threaded throughout the narrative, from her early childhood in all-black Eatonville, FL, through her tumultuous personal and professional life, to her death in near obscurity. The writing is straightforward and engaging, and the numerous archival photographs and reproductions add interest and clarification. While many of Hurston's titles have been reissued in recent years, there have been few biographies for children. The Fradins' accessible style and incorporation of recent scholarship will prove a major selling point where the author is studied.-Jill Heritage Maza, Montclair Kimberley Academy, Montclair, NJ (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.