Happy Book Birthday Sharon Creech: THE GREAT UNEXPECTED

This summer I had THE GREAT UNEXPECTED delight of finding Sharon Creech‘s new middle grade novel (out TODAY! / Harper Collins) in my mailbox. So I did what any lifelong fan of the amazing Ms. Creech would do: tucked it in my bag with my flashlight and bug juice, and took it to Sugarloaf Fine Arts Camp.

And because Sharon Creech surprised me, my Sugarloaf theater students surprised her with a quick tweet on her birthday.

But the best surprise of all was THE GREAT UNEXPECTED itself, a tale of two very different worlds–the tiny town of Blackbird Tree, home to Naomi and Lizzie and the new boy, Finn, who falls into their lives; and across-the-ocean on the southeastern coast of Ireland where a silver-haired woman sets forth “a fine and clever revenge.”

In some ways, Naomi’s honest voice conjures up images of a modern day Becky Thatcher or Huck Finn. In fact, throughout the novel, Creech’s wonderful characters seemed to me a mixture of

1 part Twain

1 part THE NEW POLICEMAN (Kate Thompson/Random House)

1part MISSING MAY (Cynthia Rylant/Scholastic)

and– at first wink–, a touch of Arsenic and Old Lace  ; )

My young Sugarloaf playwrights gave it a thumbs up.

Then one night after campfire,  (this photo is REAL) “the air boomed with thunder” and we watched “a giant bolt of lightning dart from the sky.”

Coincidence?

Through Naomi, Ms. Creech spins a magical tale which enfolds like a Blackbird tree. First the leaves; then the bark and what lies beneath; and finally the roots–of friendship, family, and unexpected connections.

Read it to your class. Read it in your tent with a flashlight. Read it again and again. (I plan to!)

Happy Book Birthday, Sharon Creech, and many many more!

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