Sharon Creech is one of my favorite Newbery authors. Walk Two Moons is one of my favorite children’s books period, and I’m also a fan of Chasing Redbird, Ruby Holler, and The Wanderer. So when I found a collection of Sharon Creech books on my library shelf that were brand new, I couldn’t resist. I checked out four of them, and I’ve collected my short reviews for them here.
The Unfinished Angel–this book is similar to some of Creech’s books for younger kids, such as Granny Torrelli Makes Soup, in that it’s very short and pretty simplistic. The story is kind of cute but has very little plot. It is set in Italy and centers around an angel who has been around for many, many years, but still feels unfinished (some weird language choices occur in this book, which is narrated by the angel, because the angel doesn’t quite know how human words work). A young girl and her father move into the tower where the angel lives, and the girl proceeds to direct the angel to help people in the town, including a group of homeless children. Like Granny Torrelli, I think this book would be much more appreciated by younger kids than by teenagers and adults.
The Boy on the Porch–this is another fairly short story, although this one has a more complex (ish?) plot than Unfinished Angel. A boy suddenly appears on John and Marta’s porch, and although they have no idea where he came from, and he can’t speak to give them information, the couple cares for the boy until the unspecified time when his parents or guardians will return for him. The story has a somewhat ambiguous ending (what happened to the boy in the meantime?), but John and Marta are sympathetic characters who are trying to do the right thing in a strange, unexpected situation. The rural setting is classic Sharon Creech, although it isn’t as well fleshed out as it might have been in a longer book.
Rating: Good but Forgettable
The Great Unexpected–this book is beautifully written, and woven together well. The story jumps between Blackbird Tree, a town in the U.S., and Ireland. In Blackbird Tree, Naomi and Lizzie are good friends, although they often get on each other’s nerves. When Finn, a cute, mysterious boy, arrives in town, everything starts to change. Nula and Joe, Naomi’s adoptive parents, are a great couple, although they have suffered tragedy (most characters in the book have lost at least one family member, and often more than one). This book is all about the quirky characters–in Blackbird Tree, we have One Arm Farley, Crazy Cora, and Witch Wiggins; in Ireland, there are Mrs. Kavanagh and Pilpenny.
The way the two narratives are woven into one is unexpected and satisfying. The connections between Blackbird Tree and Ireland make this book something pretty special.
Rating: Pretty Darn Good
The Castle Corona–the first thing I noticed about this book were the beautiful full-color illustrations (reminiscent of old illuminations in medieval books). They were simple and colorful, and they matched perfectly with the tone of the book. Speaking of which, the tone and subject matter were unusual for a Sharon Creech book. I’m used to her books about modern-day kids living in rural settings with lots of quirky characters–this one is set at a castle in medieval times and is told almost like a fairy tale. There are a couple of peasant orphan children, a hermit, a king and queen, a vain princess, two princes, stolen items, and more. Everyone learns that, whether you are rich or poor, royalty or peasant, everyone has things about their life that they don’t like and dream of a different life. A little weird in that I expect something different from Sharon Creech, but not bad.
Rating: Good but Forgettable
Do you have any go-to authors? Let me know in the comments!