for Hoodoo by Ronald L. Smith
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 hunting 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 use his conjuring skills 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 what 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 it 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. (Ages 9–12)
CCBC Choices 2016. © Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2016. Used with permission.
Twelve-year-old Hoodoo Hatcher was born into a family with a rich tradition of practicing folk magic: hoodoo, as most people call it. But even though his name is Hoodoo, he can't seem to cast a simple spell. Then a mysterious man called the Stranger comes to town, and Hoodoo starts dreaming of the dead rising from their graves. Even worse, he soon learns the Stranger is looking for a boy. Not just any boy. A boy named Hoodoo. The entire town is at risk from the Stranger's black magic, and only Hoodoo can defeat him. He'll just need to learn how to conjure first. Set amid the swamps, red soil, and sweltering heat of small town Alabama in the 1930s, Hoodoo is infused with a big dose of creepiness leavened with gentle humor. AUTHOR: Ronald L. Smith remembers taking trips down south to visit family as a kid. And since the South is already full of tall tales, he just made them taller. He drew on stories, legends, and the local flora and fauna to write Hoodoo. He lives in Baltimore, MD. Visit him at myrlsmithblog.tumblr.com. With this vivid debut, Zora Neale Hurston meets Stephen King in a supernatural Southern Gothic tale for middle grade readers.
Publisher description retrieved from Google Books.