An adequate introduction to a remarkable 20th-century author.

ZORA

THE LIFE OF ZORA NEALE HURSTON

Zora Neale Hurston and her times come alive in this introduction for young readers.

Living in the all-black town of Eatonville, Fla., Zora Neale Hurston never had to face the racism of her times. She grew up proud and confident, believing “the moon followed her wherever she went.” Early on, she cultivated the dream of becoming a famous writer, and though she faced many obstacles along the way, she succeeded with Their Eyes Were Watching God, which has sold over five million copies and is now a fixture of high school and college curricula. The volume is nicely designed, and the many photographs (captions not seen) make it feel like a Hurston scrapbook, though there are too many pages of dense text unbroken by images. Somehow, though, Hurston’s odyssey—through the Harlem Renaissance and the Prohibition era, as well as through the South collecting stories from former slaves, lumber workers near the Everglades and voodoo practitioners in New Orleans—comes off as dry and not especially interesting. Audience is an issue, too, since the volume is aimed at young readers who won’t have heard of Hurston and won’t find books by her for their age group. A work aimed at an older teen audience might have better hit the mark.

An adequate introduction to a remarkable 20th-century author. (two folktales, timeline, source notes, bibliography, index) (Biography. 9-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 7, 2012

ISBN: 078-0-547-00695-6

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Clarion

Review Posted Online: May 16, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2012

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A rich source of terrors both real and manufactured, equally effective in broad daylight or beneath the bedcovers.

DON'T READ THIS BOOK BEFORE BED

THRILLS, CHILLS, AND HAUNTINGLY TRUE STORIES

A compendium of paranormal doings, natural horrors, and eerie wonders worldwide and (in several senses) beyond.

Maladroit title aside (“…in Bed” would make more sense, cautionwise), this collection of hauntings, cryptids, natural and historical mysteries, and general titillation (“Vampire bats might be coming for you!”) offers a broad array of reasons to stay wide awake. Arranged in no discernible order the 60-plus entries include ghostly sightings in the White House and various castles, body-burrowing guinea worms, the Nazca lines of Peru, Mothman and Nessie, the hastily abandoned city of Pripyat (which, thanks to the Chernobyl disaster, may be habitable again…in 24,000 years), monarch-butterfly migrations, and diverse rains of fish, frogs, fireballs, and unidentified slime. Each is presented in a busy whirl of narrative blocks, photos, graphics, side comments, and arbitrary “Fright-O-Meter” ratings (Paris’ “Creepy Catacombs” earn just a “4” out of 10 and black holes a “3,” but the aforementioned aerial amphibians a full “10”). The headers tend toward the lurid: “Jelly From Space,” “Zombie Ants,” “Mongolian Death Worm.” Claybourne sprinkles multiple-choice pop quizzes throughout for changes of pace.

A rich source of terrors both real and manufactured, equally effective in broad daylight or beneath the bedcovers. (Nonfiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4263-2841-1

Page Count: 144

Publisher: National Geographic

Review Posted Online: May 15, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2017

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THE ARABIAN NIGHTS

In a large, handsome format, Tarnowska offers six tales plus an abbreviated version of the frame story, retold in formal but contemporary language and sandwiched between a note on the Nights’ place in her childhood in Lebanon and a page of glossary and source notes. Rather than preserve the traditional embedded structure and cliffhanger cutoffs, she keeps each story discrete and tones down the sex and violence. This structure begs the question of why Shahriyar lets Shahrazade [sic] live if she tells each evening’s tale complete, but it serves to simplify the reading for those who want just one tale at a time. Only the opener, “Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp,” is likely to be familiar to young readers; in others a prince learns to control a flying “Ebony Horse” by “twiddling” its ears, contending djinn argue whether “Prince Kamar el Zaman [or] Princess Boudour” is the more beautiful (the prince wins) and in a Cinderella tale a “Diamond Anklet” subs for the glass slipper. Hénaff’s stylized scenes of domed cityscapes and turbaned figures add properly whimsical visual notes to this short but animated gathering. (Folktales. 10-12)

 

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-84686-122-2

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Barefoot Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2010

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