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Tag: Colleen Houck

Diversify YA Life: Horror with Diverse Characters

It’s Halloween and it’s time for more booklists about scary books.  This booklist features scary books with diverse characters.  Many diverse horror novels are also historical fiction, and these books often include folklore, mythology, and religion.

Hoodoo by Ronald L. Smith—American Folklore/Hoodoo


Hoodoo by Smith is about a 12-year-old boy nicknamed Hoodoo from Alabama in the 1930’s.  Hoodoo, raised by his grandmother, sees a strange man one day and weird things begin to happen to his family and friends.  Hoodoo must solve the mystery of his father’s death and conjure spells to save his loved ones.

Hoodoo or conjuring/rootworking is folk magic that uses natural resources such as herbs and even animals to enhance one’s life.  People who practice hoodoo are often seeking love, wealth, or health. Hoodoo is believed to have originated from the 19th century in the southern states of America where there was a huge concentration of slaves.  Because of the varied nationalities of the slaves, Hoodoo is the mixture of many different cultural practices including Native American herbal knowledge.


The Jumbies by Tracey Batiste—Haitian Folktales

The JumbiesCorinne’s father tells her the story of the Jumbies, but she knows that they are just stories adults tell to frighten children.  One day, Corinne meets a beautiful stranger who quickly woos her father.  When Corinne finds out the strange woman wants to steal the land for herself and the Jumbies, Corinne gathers her friends and family to help her find her unknown magic to stop the stranger.

The Jumbies is a retelling of the Haitian tale “The Magic Orange Tree” about a girl with an evil stepmother.  When the stepmother starves the girl as punishment, she steals three oranges.  The stepmother finds out and the girl runs away only to discover a magical orange tree that she can control.  The girl seeks revenge on the stepmother with the orange tree.

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A roundup of magical cats in honor of Happy Cat Month

Well, friends, I won’t lie: I got a little excited when I heard that September is Happy Cat Month. I fall squarely into the cats-and-books-BELONG-together category (thankfully, I’m not alone). Although there are many books in which a cat plays an important part, I would like to give some attention today to an important sub-category of them: magical cats.

Erin Hunter’s Warriors series comes first to mind, of course. It begins with pet cat Rusty joining the wildcat group ThunderClan and becoming the warrior Fireheart. Warriors fans won’t want to miss the great fight scenes in S.F. Said’s Varjak Paw and The Outlaw Varjak Paw, with jaggedy illustrations by Dave McKean. And cat fans probably wouldn’t let me leave out Catwings by Ursula K. Le Guin or Time Cat by Lloyd Alexander, even though they are aimed at younger readers.

Also not to be missed: