What's the Hurry, Fox?: And Other Animal Stories

Overview

Acclaimed anthropologist, folklorist, and novelist Zora Neale Hurston traveled the back roads of the rural South, collecting stories from men, women, and children in Florida, Alabama, Georgia, and Louisiana so that the spirit and richness of the oral storytelling tradition could be shared and preserved. What's the Hurry, Fox? is a sampling of stories from Every Tongue Got To Confess, Ms. Hurston's third volume of folktales collected from the Gulf statesin the 1930s. They have been carefully adapted and shaped by ...

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Overview

Acclaimed anthropologist, folklorist, and novelist Zora Neale Hurston traveled the back roads of the rural South, collecting stories from men, women, and children in Florida, Alabama, Georgia, and Louisiana so that the spirit and richness of the oral storytelling tradition could be shared and preserved. What's the Hurry, Fox? is a sampling of stories from Every Tongue Got To Confess, Ms. Hurston's third volume of folktales collected from the Gulf statesin the 1930s. They have been carefully adapted and shaped by National Book — and Coretta Scott King Award–winning author Joyce Carol Thomas to appeal to the sensibilities of young readers. Caldecott Honor — and Coretta Scott King Award-winning artist Bryan Collier adds his unique vision with collages that capture the rich heritage and rural community setting of the stories that are Ms. Hurston's legacy to us.

Presents a volume of pourquoi tales collected by Zora Neale Hurston from her field research in the Gulf states in the 1920s.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Joyce Carol Thomas adapts a raft of folklore originally collected by Zora Neale Hurston in What's the Hurry, Fox? And Other Animal Stories, illus. by Brian Collier. The pourquoi tales told to Hurston by native Southerners (and compiled in Hurston's Every Tongue Got to Confess: Negro Folk-tales from the Gulf States) explain such mysteries as "Why Donkey Has Long Ears" or "Why the Waves Have Whitecaps." The folksy voice of a storyteller pervades each tale and will draw in young readers; Collier's full-bleed collages and watercolors are every bit as satisfying, as he endows humans and animals alike with distinctive character. (Apr.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal
Gr 1-4-These animal pourquoi stories have been selected from Zora Neale Hurston's collection, Every Tongue Got to Confess. In her adaptations of the nine short tales (there are two versions of one of the stories), Thomas stays very close to the original text, making only minor word changes. Surprisingly, the selections never quite engage readers. With the exception of the Aesop-like "What's the Hurry, Fox?" and "Why the Waves Have Whitecaps," they come across as rather lackluster, and leave their audience with a sense that there must be more to the story. Even with Collier's wonderful double-page collage-and-watercolor illustrations, which invite closer inspection, this work will have limited appeal.-Mary N. Oluonye, Shaker Heights Public Library, OH Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Thomas polishes up nine anecdotes and pourquoi tales collected by Hurston, but only recently rediscovered (along with hundreds more) and published in a collection for adults. Originally transcribed in dialect, their regional flavor has been toned down, but not completely erased: when Porpoise outraces the Sun, for instance, God says, "Aw, no, this ain't gonna do!" and fixes Porpoise's tail "on crossways." Sandwiched between not-quite-identical versions of "Why the Buzzard Has No Home," these short tales of rivalry ("Why the Dog Hates the Cat"), friendship ("Why Frog Got Eyes and Mole Got Tail"), and troubles explained ("Why Flies Get the First Taste") will appeal to readers and tellers alike for their simplicity, humor, and action. To all of this, Collier adds an unexpected, but not overdone, layer of visual complexity with painted collages in which easily recognizable animals and background features, abstract forms, and swirls of color coexist. Younger audiences might not know Hurston as a folklorist; here's help for that, in an inviting mix of new tales and familiar ones made fresh. (source notes) (Folk tales. 7-10)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060006433
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 4/13/2004
  • Edition description: 1ST
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 6 - 10 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.50 (w) x 11.00 (h) x 0.25 (d)

Meet the Author

Zora Neale Hurston

Zora Neale Hurston (1891-1960) was a novelist, folklorist, and anthropologist whose fictional and factual accounts of black heritage remain unparalleled. Her many books include Dust Tracks on a Road; Their Eyes Were Watching God; Jonah's Gourd Vine; Moses, Man of the Mountain; Mules and Men; and Every Tongue Got to Confess.

Bryan Collier is the illustrator of rosa by Nikki Giovanni and Martin's Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by Doreen Rappaport, both Caldecott Honor Books, and the Coretta Scott King Honor Book Visiting Langston by Willie Perdomo. He also wrote and illustrated the Coretta Scott King Award-winning Uptown. Besides illustrating children's books, Bryan donates his time to painting murals in his Harlem, New York, neighborhood.

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.

Biography

During the 1920s, African-American culture in the United States received an exhilarating shot in the arm in the era known as the Harlem Renaissance. For the first time, black American art, music, and literature was being taken seriously among the intelligentsia as a significant force in contemporary culture. At the front of that movement were several writers, including Zora Neale Hurston.

Hurston's work reflected the liberation and experimentation of post-war America. She published stories and co-founded the groundbreaking journal Fire! with poet Langston Hughes and novelist Wallace Thurman. By the ‘30s, Hurston was a bestselling writer, but with the Renaissance on the wane and a new era of politics, economic depression, and the "social realism" movement, Hurston's once glorious literary career was running into dire straits. She would end her life destitute, practically forgotten, buried in an unmarked grave in Florida. However, a resurgence of interest in her work during the 1970s and the tireless work of writer Alice Walker would help reestablish Hurston in her rightful place as one of America's greatest and most influential writers.

Born in Eatonville, Florida, in 1891 to a father who was a Baptist preacher, Hurston was well-versed from birth in the dynamics of the Southern black experience. She brought that keen vision to her writing and published her first story in the Howard University literary magazine while attending the school in 1921. Still, it was not until Hurston moved to New York City in 1925 that she really began to make waves on the literary scene. Her writing was characterized by its unflagging honesty and strength, qualities that Hurston herself exuded. She often ruffled feathers by refusing to adhere to the constricting gender conventions prevalent at the time. This strength and self-confidence was already apparent in the writer's very first works. Her debut novel Jonah's Gourde Vine was praised by The New York Times as "the most vital and original novel about the American Negro that has yet been written by a member of the Negro race." Her second was a bona fide classic, Mules and Men, a compendium of African American folk tales, songs, and maxims that drew on Hurston's extensive studies in Anthropology.

By the time Hurston published her signature work Their Eyes Were Watching God, the freestyle experimentalism of the Harlem Renaissance was being increasingly overcast by the Great Depression. As a result, a backlash ensued. Their Eyes Were Watching God, which told of a woman named Janie Crawford who goes through three marriages to separate men as she struggles to realize herself, was too steeped in the experimentalism of the Renaissance to please critics. Furthermore, her portrayal of a black woman's search for personal liberation was too much for many black men to stomach. Richard Wright, the acclaimed author of Native Son, even dismissed Their Eyes Were Watching God for not being "serious fiction." Today, such criticism may seem absurd, or at the very least, incredibly short-sighted, but at the time, Hurston's daring prose was not in vogue amongst the social realists.

Their Eyes Were Watching God, instead, displays a true structural adventurousness, splitting between the eloquence of the narrative voice and the idiomatic, ungrammatical dialogue of the black, southern characters. While works of the social realism movement were easily categorized by their left-wing politics and gritty delivery, Their Eyes Were Watching God was less simple to pigeonhole. It is at once a product of the Harlem Renaissance, an example of Southern literature along the lines of Faulkner, and a work of feminist literature. Consequently, the novel was criticized for being out of step with the times, and it went out of print very shortly after being published, leading to the collapse of Hurston's career and her standing as a significant literary figure.

Hurston would die in 1960, back in Florida, destitute, forgotten. Her books long unavailable, her death barely registered. She would not return to the public eye until 1975, when Alice Walker published an essay titled "In Search of Zora Neale Hurston" in Ms. magazine. Along with other writer including Robert Hemenway and Tony Cade Bambara, Walker went on a crusade to revitalize Hurston's career fifteen years after the writer's death.

When Their Eyes Were Watching God was finally republished, it was reevaluated as a classic. Today, the novel is required reading in universities all over the country, and Hurston is widely acknowledged as one of the first great African-American women writers. As a final tribute to her idol, Walker also traveled to Florida where Hurston is buried and placed a marker on her grave, a long-overdue tribute to a great American writer reading with beautiful simplicity: "Zora Neale Hurston: Genius of the South."

Good To Know

Hurston's earliest work was a comedic play called Mule Bone, which she co-wrote with Langston Hughes. However, the play would not be performed until 1991 due to an arduous legal battle that also brought an untimely end to the friendship between Hurston and Hughes.

Spike Lee's audacious debut film She's Gotta Have It has been viewed by some as a hip adaptation of Their Eyes Were Watching God, and the fact that the film opens with a quotation from Zora Neale Hurston may prove such theories correct.

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

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