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Real-World and Otherworldly : October 2016 Middle School

September 20th, 2016 | Posted by etownsend in October | 2016-2017 | Middle School

hoodooBooks for Middle School AgeHoodoo by Ronald L. Smith. Clarion, 2015

Eleven-year-old Hoodoo Hatcher has a bad feeling about the Stranger in town, with good reason. The man is a servant of the devil after something he calls Mandragore, or Main the Gloire—“the one that did the deed.” To Hoodoo’s dismay, his own left hand is what the Stranger is looking for. Hoodoo’s father, lynched years before, tried to escape into his young son’s body but succeeded only as far as his hand. Hoodoo knew none of this before the Stranger’s arrival. Determined to face the Stranger on his own in order to protect his family and friends, Hoodoo goes in search of spells and knowledge beyond the conjuring his family already knows. He finds answers following clues in an old book of his father’s, and he finds great, just power in his left hand. Author Ronald L. Smith takes his time—in a wonderful way—establishing setting (a small rural African American community in Tuscaloosa County Alabama in the past) and characters in a story that deftly balances real-world and otherworldly scary but never feels heavy or heavy-handed, in part because Hoodoo is such an appealing, smart, and often funny narrator who never loses his sense of goodness, or even innocence, in spite of all the knowledge he gains of darkness in and beyond this world.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

  1. How does Hoodoo grow into his name?
  2. Who does the stranger represent in this story? What evidence helps you figure this out?
  3. Why does the author use italicized writing throughout the text?
  4. Why does Hoodoo reject the help of his family and insist on pursuing the challenge on his own?

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