#SurvivalStories2021 Books Early Readers Features Genre Joy and Peace in Literature Lifespan of a Reader Middle Grade Non-fiction Wednesday Nonfiction Picture Books Reading Themes

[Nonfiction Wednesday] The Joy Of Being A StoryCatcher

... in "Jump At The Sun" - Zora Neale Hurston's picturebook biography.

Myra here.

We are delighted to dedicate our Wednesdays to featuring nonfiction titles, as per usual. We would also be linking our nonfiction choices with our reading themes throughout the year, when we can.


Jump At The Sun: The True Life Tale Of Unstoppable Storyteller Zora Neale Hurston (Amazon | Book Depository)

Written by Alicia D. Williams Illustrated by Jacqueline Alcantara
Published by Atheneum | Caitlyn Dlouhy Books (2021)
ISBN: 1534419136 (ISBN13: 9781534419131) Borrowed from Overdrive. Book photos taken by me.

One of the books that I intend to read as part of our #SurvivalStories2021 (and our attempts to decolonize our bookshelves) is Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God (Amazon | Book Depository). When I chanced upon this title via Overdrive, I was thrilled to finally get a chance to learn more about Zora Neale Hurston, especially since I am currently reading a number of picturebook biographies as part of my research project here in the UAE University.

Unlike other PBBs that only provide a snapshot or an episode of the eminent person’s life, this one covers Zora’s childhood, all the way to adulthood, and her eventually earning a degree as a folklorist/ anthropologist. I enjoyed reading her carefree days of youth, when her mother was still alive and how she organically fell in love with make-believe tales by hanging out at the general store, and soaking in the stories being swapped around by the townsfolk.

There is joyful exuberance depicted here as she catches one story after another, and transforms them in her own unique way, making the stories hers. It took awhile before she was recognized as an extraordinary storyteller, but everything that she experienced in her life helped shape her continual efforts to “Jump at the Sun” as her mother advised.

Despite the awards that she received and her obtaining a degree and serving as an educator for a time, I was sad to read the Afterword where it was noted how “she never received the financial gains she deserved. In her later years, she worked as a librarian, substitute teacher, and even a maid to survive.” She was eventually buried in an unmarked grave. Zora seemed to have led an exciting, colourful life. This PBB has made me even more intrigued to know more details about her life, and to read her novels soonest.


#SurvivalStories2021 Update: 24 out of target 100

Myra is a Teacher Educator and a registered clinical psychologist based in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. Prior to moving to the Middle East, she lived for eleven years in Singapore serving as a teacher educator. She has edited five books on rediscovering children’s literature in Asia (with a focus on the Philippines, Malaysia, India, China, Japan) as part of the proceedings for the Asian Festival of Children’s Content where she served as the Chair of the Programme Committee for the Asian Children’s Writers and Illustrators Conference from 2011 until 2019. While she is an academic by day, she is a closet poet and a book hunter at heart. When she is not reading or writing about books or planning her next reads, she is hoping desperately to smash that shuttlecock to smithereens because Badminton Is Life (still looking for badminton courts here at UAE - suggestions are most welcome).

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