Zora Hurston and the Chinaberry Tree

Zora Hurston and the Chinaberry Tree

by William Miller, Ying-Hwa Hu, Cornelius Van Wright
     
 

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Zora is full of dreams. From the top of the chinaberry tree, she dreams of living in the cities beyond the horizon. Her father thinks she should wear dresses and leave dreaming and tree-climbing to boys. But her mother teaches Zora that like each new branch of the chinaberry tree, dreams are always within reach.

Independent and full of spirit, Zora explores her

Overview

Zora is full of dreams. From the top of the chinaberry tree, she dreams of living in the cities beyond the horizon. Her father thinks she should wear dresses and leave dreaming and tree-climbing to boys. But her mother teaches Zora that like each new branch of the chinaberry tree, dreams are always within reach.

Independent and full of spirit, Zora explores her hometown and listens to the stories of its people — stories her mother makes her promise to remember. But it isn't until Zora is faced with her mother's death that she realizes the importance of her promise. Based on autobiographical writings of the renowned African American writer Zora Neale Hurston, this is a story that will appeal to all readers who, like Zora, believe in their dreams.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Van Wright and Hu "neatly capture the emotions in this lucidly told story," said PW of this retelling of an episode from the childhood of the well-known African American author. Ages 4-up. (Feb.)
Children's Literature - Susie Wilde
The author focuses on Hurston's early life and the division of her home. Zora's father sought to limit her because of her sex, while her mother helped her dream, question, and see the vitality of the world. The book ends with Hurston's response to her mother's death. With great determination Zora climbs the Chinaberry tree to view the world her mother showed her, and she utters a promise "she would never stop climbing, would always reach for the newborn sky, always jump at the morning sun!" Illustrations highlight the beauty of the relationship between mother and child and their connection to the natural world.
Children's Literature - Jan Lieberman
Miller shows us a young Zora Hurston, curious and dreaming dreams of the world outside her community. The tree symbolizes Zora's dreams and it is the place that is a sanctuary when her mother dies. Her mother's influence led Zora to her career as a folklorist and writer. Beautiful illustrations evoke scenes of a past time and bring to life the rich community life that Zora knew.
School Library Journal
K-Gr 3-Hurston's difficult childhood is a challenging subject for a picture book, and Miller is not entirely successful in his treatment. The story is framed by scenes of the child in a chinaberry tree, imagining what lies beyond the horizon. The blurry edges of the watercolor images work well to suggest the worldview of a young girl prone to dreaming. The problem lies with what is left unsaid in the brief narrative. With only three sentences to characterize her father, children may be confused to learn that ``Zora only listened to her mother.'' However, it is the treatment of her mother's death that is most problematic. As the child spies on the men and boys telling stories around the campfire, she hears about ``...Death, the great square-toed one...who sat on a platform made of palm leaves and ruled with a sword in his hands.'' Two pages later, her mother dies. No explanation of the reference to death or of the family's funereal customs is given in the text or in the author's note. More importantly, the impact of the girl's beloved relative's death is not satisfactorily resolved by showing Zora climbing her chinaberry tree. More narrative is needed to help readers understand the unique setting and dynamics surrounding this character and to cushion the effect of this traumatic event. Stick with Patricia and Fredrick McKissack's Zora Neale Hurston (Enslow, 1992) and A.P. Porter's Jump at de Sun (Carolrhoda, 1992) for a more developed sense of the subject and her milieu.-Wendy Lukehart, Dauphin County Library, Harrisburg, PA

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781880000335
Publisher:
Lee & Low Books, Inc.
Publication date:
05/28/2002
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
32
Product dimensions:
8.62(w) x 10.08(h) x 0.14(d)
Lexile:
640L (what's this?)
Age Range:
7 Years

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