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The Children's Bookshelf: Jump at the Sun

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This is the Children’s Bookshelf and I’m Sue Ann Martin

Jump at the Sun: The True Life Tale of Unstoppable Storycatcher Zora Neale Hurston written by Alicia D. Williams in a fascinating folklore motif and beautifully illustrated by Jacqueline Alcántara is an engaging story of how Zora first heard folktales as a child while sitting on the porch of the general store in Eatonville, Florida.    

Although her preacher father thought folktales were no better than lies her mother encouraged her delight in this oral form that came straight from the collective heart of generations. She urged her to follow her ambitions and jump at the sun! She told her she might not reach the sun but she would surely get off the ground.

After her mother died, Zora applied this wisdom to each stage of her life from going back and finishing high school at the age of 26, going to Howard University where she joined a literary club, deciding to be an author and starting to write.

It was in New York City that Zora became an active member of the Harlem scene telling stories and winning awards for her short stories and plays. The illustrations are full of zest, too. One of the most delightful shows Zora sharing her folktales with Langston Hughes, Arna Bontemps and Fanny Hurst----folktales that she first encountered when she was a child and were now enhanced by her own special details.

An interesting Author’s Note talks further about Zora’s important folklore research, her teaching career and her vast literary contributions and awards.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              

Jump at the Sun: The True Life Tale Of Unstoppable Storycatcher Zora Neale Hurston is a joyful picture book for readers 5-8 years of age (Simon and Schuster, 2021).

The Children’s Bookshelf is a production of WCMU. Links to the podcast and the activity questions, ideal for home use, can be found at Children’s

Activity Questions for Jump at the Sun

Have you ever made up a story by using found objects as characters as  Zora did when she made dolls out of corn cobs and door handles? Look around and select some items to make into pretend characters---the kitchen is a great place to locate found objects. Make sure they are safe to handle. (parents and grandparents can help). Next, give each object a personality and a name that goes with it. These names can be funny, scarry, silly or real. Then, make up a story. Let these characters talk to each other. Have fun!