cover image Zora, the Story Keeper

Zora, the Story Keeper

Ebony Joy Wilkins, illus. by Dare Coulter. Kokila, $18.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-984816-91-7

A child named Zora recounts their adventures with Aunt Bea, “the best storyteller I know,” in this moving picture book. A former acting teacher, Aunt Bea dresses up to perform stories, including those about relatives written in the “family book.” Textured images contrast Aunt Bea’s entertaining costumed performances, in full color, with sepia-tone scenes of the duo’s family; Aunt Bea wears a swim cap to act out Grandma Jean’s time as a swim coach, and dabs her forehead while pantomiming Grandpa Tom’s sermons. Sometimes Zora joins Aunt Bea, making the kitchen a stage. Zora wonders what Aunt Bea will write on Zora’s page, a question that goes unanswered when Aunt Bea becomes sick, then dies. At a family celebration of Bea’s life, Zora is given the family book and an envelope of photos of Zora and Aunt Bea together. On one page is written “Zora, the Story Keeper”—alongside plenty of room for Zora to tell Aunt Bea’s story, and others. Wilkins (If You Traveled on the Underground Railroad) and Coulter (An American Story) create a tender, smartly constructed tribute to love, storytelling, and family history. Ages 4–8. Author’s agent: Alyssa Eisner Henkin, Trident Media Group. Illustrator’s agent: Rubin Pfeffer, Rubin Pfeffer Content. (Oct.)