Skull Talks Back and Other Haunting Tales

Skull Talks Back and Other Haunting Tales

by Zora Neale Hurston, Leonard Jenkins, Joyce Carol Thomas
     
 

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Do you dare to cross paths with ...

An enchantress who can slip in and out of her skin,
A man more evil than the devil,
A skull who talks back,
A pair of creepy feet that can walk on their own?

Spooky, chilling, and fantastical, this collection of six scary tales will send shivers up your spine!

The stories in the skull talks back have been selected

Overview

Do you dare to cross paths with ...

An enchantress who can slip in and out of her skin,
A man more evil than the devil,
A skull who talks back,
A pair of creepy feet that can walk on their own?

Spooky, chilling, and fantastical, this collection of six scary tales will send shivers up your spine!

The stories in the skull talks back have been selected from Every Tongue Got To Confess, Zora Neale Hurston's third volume of folklore. Through Joyce Carol Thomas's carefully adapted text and Leonard Jenkins's arresting illustrations, the soulful, fanciful imaginations of ordinary folk will reach readers of all ages.

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature
These six tales were originally published in Hurston's folklore collection entitled, Every Tongue Got to Confess: Negro Folk-Tales from the Gulf States. Tales of spirits, skeletons, a witch who can slip off her skin, and the origin of the Jack-o'-Lantern can be found here in retellings that will be perfect to read on a dark and stormy night. There is a feeling of "otherworldliness" to the black and white illustrations. Jenkins captures the creepiness of these tales in the look of a black cat staring out of the page at the reader, a disembodied pair of feet, and the myriad skulls and bones that can be seen throughout. Thomas' "Adapter's Note" is little more than a summary but Hurston's original sources are noted at the beginning of the book. Brief biographical information on Hurston, Thomas and Jenkins are given. This is an accessible collection and a fine beginning point to spur interest in regional folklore. 2004, HarperCollins, Ages 10 up.
—Sharon Salluzzo
School Library Journal
Gr 4-6-Thomas retells six supernatural folktales selected from Hurston's Every Tongue Got to Confess (HarperCollins, 2001). The subject matter is sufficiently scary to give young readers a thrill, and Jenkins's spooky black-and-white paintings of skeletons, skulls, arrogant men, eerie cats, and nighttime swirls of fog perfectly set the stage for shivers. Thomas omits most of the dialect and supplies missing motivation. In "The Witch Who Could Slip off Her Skin," the reteller adds silly explanatory paragraphs telling why this witch would "ride" people who had done her wrong. She eliminates the character of "Marster" from "Big Sixteen," here called "Big, Bad Sixteen." "Bill, the Talking Mule," a tale in which a farmer is frightened when his animals suddenly speak to him, retains all of the surprise hilarity of the original. An adapter's note doesn't explain the changes so much as review the content. Although mostly faithful to Hurston's tales, the retellings read like fragments from some larger work that begin in the middle and end abruptly, a fact that may trouble readers who expect more shape to a story. However, this volume introduces a small part of the huge body of literature collected in the rural South in the 1920s and the person who helped put words to paper.-Susan Hepler, Burgundy Farm Country Day School, Alexandria, VA Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A talking mule, a talking skull, a witch who slips her skin, and a man so powerful that he's not admitted to heaven or hell star in this appealing but flawed companion to What's The Hurry, Fox? and Other Animal Stories (p. 331), illustrated by Bryan Collier. Jenkins's semi-abstract, black-and-white scenes of ghosts and bones add eerie atmosphere to the six folktales; Thomas has recast Hurston's original, thick dialect into a modern idiom, while nicely preserving that country flavor: "No, Pa, that mule's done gone to talking, I tell you. I ain't going." But some of the stories are only fragments, and the collection as a whole is jumbled; a boaster named High Walker dies in one tale, but isn't introduced until a later one, and Thomas's introduction has, oddly, been placed at the end. Hurston's work merits a less clumsy introduction to young readers, and Mary Lyon's Raw Head, Bloody Bones (1991) is only one of many similar folktale gatherings with a higher chill factor. (source notes) (Folktales. 8-10)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780060006310
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
07/27/2004
Pages:
64
Product dimensions:
5.80(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.50(d)
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

Meet the Author

Zora Neale Hurston, the author of Their Eyes Were Watching God, was deemed "one of the greatest writers of our time" by Toni Morrison. With the publication of Lies and Other Tall Tales, The Skull Talks Back, and What's the Hurry, Fox? new generations will be introduced to Hurston's legacy. She was born in Notasulga, Alabama, in 1891, and died in 1960.

Leonard Jenkins received his B.F.A. from the American Academy of Art in Chicago. He is the illustrator of Sunflower Island by Carol Greene, which received a starred review in Publishers Weekly. Mr. Jenkins lives in New York City.

Joyce Carol Thomas is an internationally renowned author who received the National Book Award for her first novel, Marked By Fire, and a Coretta Scott King Honor for The Blacker the Berry and for her first picture book, Brown Honey in Broomwheat Tea. Her picture book I Have Heard of a Land received a Coretta Scott King Honor and an IRA/CBC Teachers' Choice Award and was an ALA Notable Book. Her other titles include The Gospel Cinderella, Crowning Glory, Gingerbread Days, and A Gathering of Flowers. Ms. Thomas lives in Berkeley, California.

Brief Biography

Date of Birth:
January 7, 1891
Date of Death:
January 28, 1960
Place of Birth:
Eatonville, Florida
Place of Death:
Fort Pierce, Florida
Education:
B.A., Barnard College, 1928 (the school's first black graduate). Went on to study anthropology at Columbia University.

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