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Jump at the Sun: The True Life Tale of Unstoppable Storycatcher Zora Neale Hurston

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A picture book that shines the light on Zora Neale Hurston, the writer and storycatcher extraordinaire who changed the face of American literature. Zora was a girl who hankered for tales like bees for honey. Now, her mama always told her that if she wanted something, “to jump at de sun”, because even though you might not land quite that high, at least you’d get off the grou A picture book that shines the light on Zora Neale Hurston, the writer and storycatcher extraordinaire who changed the face of American literature. Zora was a girl who hankered for tales like bees for honey. Now, her mama always told her that if she wanted something, “to jump at de sun”, because even though you might not land quite that high, at least you’d get off the ground. So Zora jumped from place to place, from the porch of the general store where she listened to folktales, to Howard University, to Harlem. And everywhere she jumped, she shined sunlight on the tales most people hadn’t been bothered to listen to until Zora. The tales no one had written down until Zora. Tales on a whole culture of literature overlooked…until Zora. Until Zora jumped.


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A picture book that shines the light on Zora Neale Hurston, the writer and storycatcher extraordinaire who changed the face of American literature. Zora was a girl who hankered for tales like bees for honey. Now, her mama always told her that if she wanted something, “to jump at de sun”, because even though you might not land quite that high, at least you’d get off the grou A picture book that shines the light on Zora Neale Hurston, the writer and storycatcher extraordinaire who changed the face of American literature. Zora was a girl who hankered for tales like bees for honey. Now, her mama always told her that if she wanted something, “to jump at de sun”, because even though you might not land quite that high, at least you’d get off the ground. So Zora jumped from place to place, from the porch of the general store where she listened to folktales, to Howard University, to Harlem. And everywhere she jumped, she shined sunlight on the tales most people hadn’t been bothered to listen to until Zora. The tales no one had written down until Zora. Tales on a whole culture of literature overlooked…until Zora. Until Zora jumped.

30 review for Jump at the Sun: The True Life Tale of Unstoppable Storycatcher Zora Neale Hurston

  1. 4 out of 5

    Shari

    Delightful picture book biography of Zora Neale Hurston! It is a wonderful book to add to a Harlem Renaissance text set along with picture book biographies Ella Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington, Jacob Lawwrence, and Langston Hughes.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Danielle

    What a perfect picture book pairing of talented author and talented illustrator, text and illustrations! Both capture movement and energy, character and place, in a captivating story that will inspire readers to read, to write, to honor their culture and where they come from, and most of all, to jump at the sun.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Mary

    Williams and Alcantara do a fabulous job in capturing the energy and force of Zora Neale Hurston's passion and commitment to education and storytelling. This is a compelling and informative picture book biography that will engage and inspire readers. Those who are familiar with Hurston's life and work will be especially fascinated with details added to the illustrations and those who are not familiar will be eager to learn more. Williams and Alcantara do a fabulous job in capturing the energy and force of Zora Neale Hurston's passion and commitment to education and storytelling. This is a compelling and informative picture book biography that will engage and inspire readers. Those who are familiar with Hurston's life and work will be especially fascinated with details added to the illustrations and those who are not familiar will be eager to learn more.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Michele Knott

    Stunning. This book will invite readers back into the story and illustrations time and time again.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie A-M

    Jump at the Sun is perfect. It's a brilliant introduction to the life & work of the incomparable Zora Neale Hurston It's gorgeously illustrated & I'm certain it will capture the imagination of young readers & endear a whole new generation to her genius. Jump at the Sun is perfect. It's a brilliant introduction to the life & work of the incomparable Zora Neale Hurston It's gorgeously illustrated & I'm certain it will capture the imagination of young readers & endear a whole new generation to her genius.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Abby Johnson

    This vibrant picture book biography presents the life of African American author Zora Neale Hurston to a young audience, emphasizing her following her dreams to be a writer, even as life got in the way. Encouraged by her mother to "jump at the sun" (you might not land on the sun, but at least you'll get off the ground), Zora never stopped writing. With short excerpts from the folk stories that Zora grew up hearing and later collected as an anthropologist, this is a wonderful book for kids who li This vibrant picture book biography presents the life of African American author Zora Neale Hurston to a young audience, emphasizing her following her dreams to be a writer, even as life got in the way. Encouraged by her mother to "jump at the sun" (you might not land on the sun, but at least you'll get off the ground), Zora never stopped writing. With short excerpts from the folk stories that Zora grew up hearing and later collected as an anthropologist, this is a wonderful book for kids who like stories and may inspire them to pick up more.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Tina Hoggatt

    Employing a rich voice drawn directly from Hurston's writing and collected tales, this biography of Zora Neale Hurston, one of the preeminent writers of the Harlem Renaissance and a fabulously talented creator, takes us from childhood to success as an adult. The tenacity and vision Hurston embodied is clear in the text and lively illustrations by Jacqueline Alcantra match the energy of Williams' writing. A delight. Employing a rich voice drawn directly from Hurston's writing and collected tales, this biography of Zora Neale Hurston, one of the preeminent writers of the Harlem Renaissance and a fabulously talented creator, takes us from childhood to success as an adult. The tenacity and vision Hurston embodied is clear in the text and lively illustrations by Jacqueline Alcantra match the energy of Williams' writing. A delight.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Margie

    The first listed definition in Merriam-Webster names it as an account of incidents or events. Newbery author and former National Ambassador of Children's Literature, Kate DiCamillo believes it connects us. In an interview with Anderson Cooper of CNN, the National Youth Poet Laureate, Amanda Gorman, who wrote and recited the Inaugural poem, The Hill We Climb, on January 20, 2021, says: I'm a poet. So often I don't work in images. I work in words and text. . . . To me words matter. More than one hund The first listed definition in Merriam-Webster names it as an account of incidents or events. Newbery author and former National Ambassador of Children's Literature, Kate DiCamillo believes it connects us. In an interview with Anderson Cooper of CNN, the National Youth Poet Laureate, Amanda Gorman, who wrote and recited the Inaugural poem, The Hill We Climb, on January 20, 2021, says: I'm a poet. So often I don't work in images. I work in words and text. . . . To me words matter. More than one hundred years before Amanda, another Black girl was born. She believed words mattered. She believed in the power of story to connect us as does Kate. Jump at the Sun: The True Life Tale of Unstoppable Storycatcher Zora Neale Hurston (A Caitlyn Dlouhy Book, Atheneum Books For Young Readers, January 12, 2021) written by Alicia D. Williams with illustrations by Jacqueline Alcantara is a wondrous, joyful celebration of this remarkable author and this searcher and gatherer of folklore. Let us take a leap as she did again and again. Let us be inspired by her courage and conviction. My full recommendation: https://librariansquest.blogspot.com/...

  9. 5 out of 5

    Kid Lit Reviews

    Opening Sentences “IN A TOWN CALLED EATONVILLE—a place where magnolias smelled even prettier than they looked, oranges were as sweet as they were plump, and the people just plain ol’ got along—lived a girl who was attracted to tales like mosquitoes to skin.” Why I like Jump at the Sun Jump at the Sun is the biography of African-American novelist, folklorist, and anthropologist Nora Neale Hurston (1891—1960). It’s subtitled, The True Tale of Unstoppable Storycatcher Zora Neale Hurston, for good reas Opening Sentences “IN A TOWN CALLED EATONVILLE—a place where magnolias smelled even prettier than they looked, oranges were as sweet as they were plump, and the people just plain ol’ got along—lived a girl who was attracted to tales like mosquitoes to skin.” Why I like Jump at the Sun Jump at the Sun is the biography of African-American novelist, folklorist, and anthropologist Nora Neale Hurston (1891—1960). It’s subtitled, The True Tale of Unstoppable Storycatcher Zora Neale Hurston, for good reasons; Hurston not only wrote her own stories, she also “caught” the stories and folktales that were orally passed from one generation to the next. As you read her remarkable story, you will understand how “unstoppable” this woman was in most aspects of her life. Beginning as a young girl interested in stories townfolk told at Joe Clark’s general store, and into a young adult wanting the education needed to become the famous writer she yearned to become. Aspiring writers of all ages, abilities, and backgrounds can see Hurston’s success as a road they may also travel. They will find much inspiration in Hurston’s life, especially as she was unwillingly pushed out on her own, at age fourteen. Hurston studied when she could, wrote when she had the time, invested in her future, and did what she had to do to survive—even though holding onto a job was not one of her vast skills. Yet when an opportunity presented itself, Hurston made the most of it, from her studies at Howard University and Barnyard College, to her move to New York City. Ms. Hurston’s work includes many writings and collections, including “cultural songs, dances, tales, religious practices, children’s games, folklores.” Zora collected the tales and folklores she heard at Joe Clark’s general store, which she sold. Titled The Eatonville Anthology, it helped pay the costs of Zora’s education at Barnyard College. She also collected folktales, at a professor’s urging, to complete her anthropology fieldwork. Mrs. Hurston collected folklores in Haiti, the Bahamas, and in southern Florida, including her childhood home in Eatonville. When, as a young girl, Nora was not collecting folk stories, she was writing her own stories—after first creating characters fashioned out of scraps (Reverend Door-Knob, Miss Corn Shuck and Miss Corn-Cob). Young readers will enjoy her crazy characters and the beautiful, detailed, respectful, and often comical illustrations artist Jacqueline Alcántara created to tell Ms. Hurston’s story. This incredible folklorist might even inspire children to create their own characters and then the stories to match each one. Advanced readers will be able to read this biographical picture book on their own. Younger kids will find some of the words author Alicia D. Williams used out of the range of the typical picture book reader: anthropology, varmints, sobbing-hearted, mourn, boarding school, tightfisted, commenced, tarrying, plunked, pallet, pondering, literary, lectures, the Charleston, chanting, bootlegger, hold court, and a few southern accented words such as: “de” (the), “dese” (these),“lemme” (let me), “s’posed” (supposed),“y’all” (you all), “’bout” (about), “tah” (a), and “steada” (instead of). The many side bubbles give a hint to Ms. Hurston’s folktales and stories, including the accent. “You know, God did not make folks all at once. He made folks sort of in His spare time . . . . For instance, one day He called everybody and gave out feet and eyes. Another time He give out toe-nails. . . .” “Y’all been tellin’ and lyin’ ‘bout dese varmints but you ain’t yet spoke about de high chief boss of all de world which is de lion. . . . “ “Dat’s de reason de dog is mad wid de rabbit now—‘cause he fooled de dog. . . .” Ms. Williams uses many similes while writing Ms. Hurston’s story. She starts by writing, “. . . –lived a girl who was attracted to tales like mosquitoes to skin.” (emphasis mine) This first page helps set the mood for the story, letting readers know this will be a fun, informative biography about an amazing woman. By the time children and adults finish this picture book—adults should most definitely read Jump at the Sun—they will understand Ms. Zora Neale Hurston is, as Ms. Williams writes, “She is a national treasure.” Back Matter An Author’s Note—Alicia D. Williams tells the story of first meeting author Zora Neale Hurston, who had a fondness for giggling. Ms. Hurston’s anthology is titled, I Love Myself When I Am Laughing . . . And Then Again When I Am Looking Mean and Impressive. She lived out many adventures while bravely driving the back roads of the southern states in her Ford coupe (during the time of Jim Crow laws). I doubt she was truly mean, but Ms. Hurston was most definitely impressive. Read all the gems about this fascinating novelist, folklorist, anthropologist, adventurer, and much more in the Author’s Note. The back matter also includes a list of Additional Reading; all books by Ms. Hurston (two for children and seven for adults). The Sources used while writing, Jump at the Sun: The True Tale of Unstoppable Storycatcher Zora Neale Hurston is also listed.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Tonja Drecker

    I enjoy diving into picture books which introduce young listeners/readers to individuals, who made an impact on the world around them...but are often lost in the shadows. This books centers around Zora Neale Hurston, a woman who grew up in the early 1900's. She not only had a large impact on the literary world but pulled through at a time where her gender and race created huge barriers for her to overcome. A young girl full of spunk and life introduces this book...and makes listeners wish right I enjoy diving into picture books which introduce young listeners/readers to individuals, who made an impact on the world around them...but are often lost in the shadows. This books centers around Zora Neale Hurston, a woman who grew up in the early 1900's. She not only had a large impact on the literary world but pulled through at a time where her gender and race created huge barriers for her to overcome. A young girl full of spunk and life introduces this book...and makes listeners wish right away they could join her and become friends. Not only are the descriptions of her childhood antics fun, but the illustrations present her as a girl, who dreamed, allowed herself to dive into adventures, and yet, wasn't a trouble-maker. These first pages especially pull in. The book switches modes as it follows Nora's life. I always find this a challenge for picture books, since becoming an adult with adult battles and adult successes are very hard to bring across in a way which will connect with the intended audience. In this case, the audience will probably slide more into the 5 to 10 years age group because the text is on the heavier side, and the wording isn't easy...but I'll get back to that in a second. While the author keeps the energy high and the illustrations do a terrific job at grabbing attention the entire way through, there were moments in the middle, which I wanted to skim instead of read...especially during her education years and beginning jobs and such. As said, it's an almost impossible task to get kids not only to relate to, but even to understand what an adult has gone through. But this book does do a pretty good job and keeps it lively, even when not every situation will resonate with the audience (but adults will learn quite a bit, too). The roughest part in this one is probably the slang and mentioned people/stories. Brer Rabbit's antics are hinted at...and while I loved this tale as a child (although I didn't understand every word), I don't know of many children who would recognize it now. Slang terms, which no doubt were a part of Zora's life, are also used, and while being important for listeners to hear, it also makes understanding and reading aloud a bit difficult at times. And yet, it gives it an important authenticity. Anyone wanting to learn more about Zora Neale Hurston and her life will enjoy this one. I received an ARC copy and enjoyed this journey through Zora's life quite a bit.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Ben Truong

    Jump at the Sun: The True Life Tale of Unstoppable Storycatcher Zora Neale Hurston is a children's picture book written by Alicia D. Williams and illustrated by Jacqueline Alcántara. From her girlhood days to her legacy as a writer for the ages, Zora Neale Hurston is introduced to young readers. Zora Neale Hurston was an American author, anthropologist, and filmmaker. She portrayed racial struggles in the early-1900s American South and published research on hoodoo. She also wrote more than 50 sho Jump at the Sun: The True Life Tale of Unstoppable Storycatcher Zora Neale Hurston is a children's picture book written by Alicia D. Williams and illustrated by Jacqueline Alcántara. From her girlhood days to her legacy as a writer for the ages, Zora Neale Hurston is introduced to young readers. Zora Neale Hurston was an American author, anthropologist, and filmmaker. She portrayed racial struggles in the early-1900s American South and published research on hoodoo. She also wrote more than 50 short stories, plays, and essays. Williams' text is rather simplistic, straightforward, and informative. In colloquial and figurative language, Williams centers Hurston's love of storytelling, following her life from her childhood spent listening to writing during the Harlem Renaissance, and collecting Negro folklore around the world. Backmatter includes an author's note, additional reading, and sources. Alcántara matches the skillful narrative with fluid, atmospheric art that uses speech bubbles to add further dimension – a lively, joyfully rendered portrait of a literary legend. The premise of the book is rather straightforward. Zora Neale Hurston is a girl who was attracted to tales like mosquitoes to skin. The narrative follows her life from her childhood spent listening to tales on a general store porch and her mother's early encouragement to being evicted at age 14 by her stepmother, enrolling in high school at age 26, writing during the Harlem Renaissance, and collecting Negro folklore around the world. All in all, Jump at the Sun: The True Life Tale of Unstoppable Storycatcher Zora Neale Hurston is an introduction to an American icon that feels just right.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    I loved this picture book biography about author Zora Neale Hurston. From her youngest days listening to tales being told on the front porch of the general store to her later days trying to make it as an author, I felt it captured her energy, life, and passion for storytelling and what drove her to continue writing even when she faced obstacles and set-backs. Beautiful book about an amazing woman.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Ashley

    Full disclosure, I have been a fan of Alicia Williams since 2010, well before she was an award winning author. I knew I was going to love this book since I first knew that it existed. BUT Its so much more than I could have asked for. The story is engaging, and informative but also fun and whimsical. The illustrations are GORGEOUS. Zora just jumps off of the page. And I am definitely interested in finding out more about her.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Ron Turner

    It's fascinating watching her reputation get rehabilitated. She was extremely conservative and bitterly opposed school integration (Brown V. Board of Education). If she was alive today, she'd be hanging out with Diamond and Silk gushing about Donald Trump. Yet now she's this mythical figure, worshipped by a woke crowd that she would probably despise. It's fascinating watching her reputation get rehabilitated. She was extremely conservative and bitterly opposed school integration (Brown V. Board of Education). If she was alive today, she'd be hanging out with Diamond and Silk gushing about Donald Trump. Yet now she's this mythical figure, worshipped by a woke crowd that she would probably despise.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Erin Buhr

    Zora Neale Hurston was a girl who loved stories who grew up to be a storyteller. From her early years in Florida on, wherever Zora went she found stories and shared stories. She wrote down the stories she found on her journeys. Stories from Haiti, Jamaica and other places that weren't commonly written down at that time. This book captures a life full of adventure and color and curiosity. Zora Neale Hurston was a girl who loved stories who grew up to be a storyteller. From her early years in Florida on, wherever Zora went she found stories and shared stories. She wrote down the stories she found on her journeys. Stories from Haiti, Jamaica and other places that weren't commonly written down at that time. This book captures a life full of adventure and color and curiosity.

  16. 4 out of 5

    kiki thelibrarian

    This book was really good, and my only complaint is that the voice kept changing abruptly by slipping into dialect the way Zora Neale Hurston captured dialect in her work. But, the voice was inconsistently in dialect or not and I found this jarring. Overall, an excellent read!

  17. 4 out of 5

    Jo Oehrlein

    I love the rhythm of the main text and the dialect in the stories that we just hear pieces of. I can HEAR people saying these words in southern accents. Wonderful story of a writer, folklorist, and anthropologist who chose to Jump at the Sun, even when it looked impossible.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Angelika

    such joyful illustration and story telling of the beginning of the life and work of Zora Neale Hurston.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Annamarie Carlson (she, her)

    Learn about the fascinating life of write Zora Neale Hurston. Excellent tone and pacing throughout.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Kim

    Use as an introduction to Zora Neale Hurston to MS or HS students.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Anbolyn

    Full of joy with beautiful, energetic illustrations.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Allie Outhouse

    A beautiful history reflecting a love of stories. It does encourage lying to get what you want without any consequences.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Alice

    Biography, POC protagonist

  24. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca Caufman

    I am sad to say I did not know what Zora Neale Hurston was prior to reading this book. What an interesting life she lived!

  25. 5 out of 5

    Vanessa Vallejos

  26. 4 out of 5

    Donalyn

  27. 5 out of 5

    Kevin English

  28. 5 out of 5

    Colby Sharp

  29. 4 out of 5

    Emily

  30. 5 out of 5

    Kiza Celestin

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