Jump at the Sun: The True Life Tale of Unstoppable Storycatcher Zora Neale Hurston (Alicia D. Williams)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Jump at the Sun: The True Life Tale of Unstoppable Storycatcher Zora Neale Hurston, written by Alicia D. Williams and illustrated by Jacqueline Alcántara.

In a little town called Eatonville lived a little girl named Zora who had a passion for stories. She would hang around Joe Clarke’s general store whenever her mother sent her on an errand, listening to the townsfolk swap stories of Brer Rabbit and Brer Fox. She would invent stories of her own and offer to ride along with travelers and tell them tales of the local folklore. And despite the scoldings of her preacher father, her mother encouraged her storytelling, telling her to “jump at de sun.” Following this credo all her life, Zora left home young, working odd jobs and putting herself through school, impressing literary luminaries of her time with her collections of folklore and original stories. She then spent years traveling the Southern US and Caribbean collecting black folklore and publishing them into books, inviting the world to share the stories she loved.

A unique biography of a fascinating folklorist. Hurston was undoubtedly ahead of her time as a black woman in the early twentieth century, someone who deeply valued both her independence and the rich culture of African American folklore, and the tone of the story evokes a great deal of each; Zora’s journey is conveyed with energy and enthusiasm, using the same vernacular, idioms, and dialects that she used in her writing; this makes for an incredibly immersive reading experience, though it can trip up those unfamiliar with the colloquialisms when reading the book aloud. The artwork is equally dynamic and expressive, and cleverly integrates folklore characters to represent how Hurston’s passion for the tales of her childhood followed her throughout her life. The length, vocabulary, and a few of the story elements make this one best for older elementary and middle-grade readers; JJ was losing interest in the text midway through, but she loved the colorful and exciting art. Overall, a fascinating look at a one-of-a-kind writer, and we liked it a lot. Baby Bookworm approved!

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)