Sharon Creech • Group Author Study by: Andrea Fox, Amelia Landay, Omar Lugo, Nick Godin
Born in South Euclid, Ohio on July 29th,1945 • Grew up in a “rowdy family” with her parents, a sister, and three brothers, which inspired many characters in her books. • Dreamed as a child of becoming a figure skater • Attended Harim College in Ohio where she studied to become a High School English Teacher • Taught High School English for 15 years • Moved to England with her husband in 1979 where she wrote her first book, A Fine, Fine School. • Currently Lives in Pennington, New Jersey with her husband, Lyle Rigg and 2 children Rob and Karin Biography
Becoming an Author • Though she wrote constantly as a child, Creech had no intention to become an author. Her dream as a child was to become a figure skater • It was only later, attending Hiram College in Ohio, that she became truly interested in storytelling. • Teaching writing to students helped her teach herself; she learned about plot, characterization, and point of view. • Creech attended George Mason University of Virginia worked as an editorial assistant, indexer, and researcher. • Her husband numerous experiences as headmaster of a school in England inspired her to begin writing books beginning with her first picture book , A Fine, Fine School.
Book Awards • In 1995 Walk Two Moons won the Newbery Medal, the United Kingdom Reading Association Award, and the United Kingdom’s Children's Book Award,the Literaturhaus Award, Austria, and the Young Adult Sequoyah Award. • Bloomability won the IRA/CBC Children's Choices award in 1999. • The Wandererwon the Parents' Choice Award, in 2000, and the Newbery Honor Award in 2001. • Absolutely Normal Chaos won the YALSA Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults in 2001. • Ruby Holler received the 2002 Carnegie Medal.
Links to More Interviews with Sharon • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pm_wR5730Q8 • Sharon Creech - 2009 National Book Festival • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uFNI8J3IRps • Sharon Creech on writing The Unfinished Angel • Interview with Harper Collins Publisher http://www.harpercollins.com/author/authorExtra.aspx?a
Book Summary & Themes • Bloomability • Bloomability is a story of a girl named Domenica Santolina Doone, otherwise known as Dinnie. It all starts with Dinnie’s father trying to find his way in the world, moving from place to place. Dinnie was taken by her Aunt Sandy and Uncle Max to Switzerland. She attends a new school and is confronted with many kids from all over the world. Dinnie is faced with either getting along with these new kids or sheltering herself for mere survival. As one young adult reader, Katey M. (age 10) put it, “I like this book because it is full of adventure. You also learn some Italian words. It reminds me of my life because I have moved a lot like Dinnie and her family.” • Themes: fears of making new friends,Adjustments to new environments
Reviews of Bloomability • “A light first-person narrative and some insightful dream flashes (taken from the protagonist's journal) convey an uprooted 13-year-old's coming of age. Domenica Santolina Doone ("It's a mouthful, so most people call me Dinnie"), whose father is always in search of "the right opportunity," has already lived in 12 different cities. With her father on the road, her older brother Crick in jail and her 16-year-old sister, Stella, giving birth, it's little surprise that Dinnie is "kidnapped" by her aunt and uncle and taken from her "little New Mexico hill town" to the American School in Lugano, Switzerland, where the pair work. Tired of always being on the move, Dinnie is determined not to get attached to her newest environment ("I won't adjust! I won't adapt! I won't! I'll rebel!"), but surrounded by other "foreigners"?students from all corners of the world?she finds it easier than she had imagined to make friends. Guthrie, a classmate, helps her see a sense of possibility, or "bloomability," and to grow from her experiences. Creech (Walk Two Moons) skims the surface of Dinnie's gradual emergence from her protective "bubble" rather than delving into Dinnie's feelings about the deeper ramifications of her family's unraveling. The author tells rather than shows the poignant moments (e.g., Dinnie has no reaction when her parents forget her on Christmas; her friend Lila's vacillating moods go unexplained), which results in a reportlike view of the school year, rather than insight into the purported change in Dinnie. Some readers wishing to glimpse an adventure abroad may think this is just the ticket; however, fans of the author's previous works will likely miss her more fully realized characters. “ (From Publishers Weekly) • “This honest, hopeful slice of adolescent life successfully explores how Domenica Santolina Doone, known as Dinnie, comes to terms with her past and establishes a secure identity for the future. Creech's skill at character development and subtle, effective use of metaphor shine in this first-person narrative with crisp, appropriately titled chapters.” (School Library Journal)
Book Summary & Themes • Pleasing the Ghost • After losing his father, Dennis begins to see lots of ghosts. One evening his Uncle Arvie flies in through his window. Arvie takes Dennis on a wild ride trying to figure out riddles. This is an amazing book for young readers because it is cleverly funny but also deals with the loss of a family member. Ethan T. (age 10) also agrees, “I thought this book was good because I thought that seeing ghosts is connected to real life. Dennis changed from not worrying about his father a lot because Uncle Arvie came. My favorite part is when Dennis digs up the rose bush because Uncle Arvie says really funny things.” • Themes: grief, loss of family members
Reviews of Pleasing the Ghost • “This simultaneously sensitive and ridiculous romp by a Newbery-winning author (Walk Two Moons) begins as spunky nine-year-old Dennis explains that ghosts keep visiting him in his bedroom?"a constant parade of ghosts, but never the one I really want." Pining for his late father, Dennis instead finds himself host to a motley crew of spirits, in particular his Uncle Arvie. Arvie wants Dennis to help his widow, Aunt Julia, discover the gifts and money he has left hidden for her in his house. Unfortunately, a stroke he suffered before his death prevents him from finding the appropriate vocabulary to convey his meaning. Kids will enjoy deciphering Arvie's speech: "Good carpet, Dinosaur!" translates as "Good morning, Dennis!"; Aunt Julia's oily suitor and Billy, the class bully, are "beany boogers." Dennis's much-missed father?his "pepperoni"?never does appear, but the boy finds common ground and a possible friendship with Billy, also fatherless. Arvie's earnest affection for Julia and Dennis makes him a role model as well as a clown, and Creech's attention to nuances of feeling grounds this light tale in emotional truth. “ (Publishers Weekly) • “A disappointing tale about a boy led on a treasure hunt by a ghost. Dennis, nine, has received a parade of spectral visitors since his father's death, though none, alas, is the one he wishes to see. Occasionally, the boy recognizes deceased family members, including his late Uncle Arvie, who wishes to pass on messages to his widow, Julia. Because Arvie's speech was garbled in life by a severe stroke, helping him communicate is no easy task for Dennis. Ultimately, however, Arvie leads him to a small fortune, which will ensure Julia's lifelong comfort. In a subplot, Dennis proves to a disbelieving classmate that his ability to see ghosts is real. This story falls short on several fronts. Character development is particularly ineffective. Dennis, for example, is so easily absorbed in Arvie's affairs that it is difficult, if not impossible, to perceive him as a boy grieving for his father. While linguistic problems are caused by strokes, Arvie's nonsense syllables seem exaggerated to the point of caricature, thus creating an offensive effect. Billy, Dennis's classmate who also lost his father, thinks Dennis is making fun of him with his talk of ghosts, and in retaliation, smashes several windows in his home. In a tale obviously meant to be lighthearted, Billy's anger seems extreme and inappropriate. Mary Jo Drungil, (School Library Journal)
Book Summary & Themes The Wanderer • j "The sea, the sea, the sea. It rolled and rolled and called to me. Come in, it said, come in." Thirteen-year-old Sophie, her two cousins, and three uncles sail across the Atlantic Ocean to England to visit the ailing patriarch of the family, Bompie. Sophie conveys her fascination with the sea in journal entries and retellings of Bompie's stories, Cousin Cody writes his own journal entries and reveals that Sophie is an unreliable narrator and not always telling the truth. What happened in her past? Why does Sophie tell us things that Cody says are not true? These questions will motivate readers to keep reading to discover the answers to Sophie's secrets. Themes: Self-Acceptance, Discovery, Challenging Assumptions, Family Dynamics
Reviews of The Wanderer • “Creech is a writer of emotionally rich fiction that has often dealt with the inner life of girls, but this time around there's an exquisite new tenderness that gives the story of a boy like Jack learning poetry the quality of a baby deer being coaxed toward a salt lick. Anything could disturb this kid; anything could send him scurrying back into hiding; but with the right handling, nothing does.”- Meg Wolitzer (The New York Times) • “[Jack] nimbly conveys surprise, wonder and heartfelt emotion without sounding sentimental or affected, a quality that will have many young listeners enthralled.” - Publisher Weekly (2002) • “At the end, Creech overdoes Jack's fawning adoration of author Walter Dean Myers, who comes to school at Jack's behest, but that won't stop kids from recognizing both Jack's new exuberance and his earlier uptight mood. Best of all, the story shows how poetry inspires reading and writing with everyday words that make personal music. This is a book for teachers to read aloud and talk about with kids.”- Hazel Rochman (American Library Association)
Book Summary & Themes Love That Dog “Meet Jack, who tells his story with a little help from some paper, a pencil,his teacher, and a dog named Sky.” Themes: Coping with Grief, Building Relationships, Finding One’s Voice, Understanding Poetry
Reviews of Love That Dog • “Creech is a writer of emotionally rich fiction that has often dealt with the inner life of girls, but this time around there's an exquisite new tenderness that gives the story of a boy like Jack learning poetry the quality of a baby deer being coaxed toward a salt lick. Anything could disturb this kid; anything could send him scurrying back into hiding; but with the right handling, nothing does.”- Meg Wolitzer (The New York Times) • “[Jack] nimbly conveys surprise, wonder and heartfelt emotion without sounding sentimental or affected, a quality that will have many young listeners enthralled.”- Publisher Weekly (2002) • “At the end, Creech overdoes Jack's fawning adoration of author Walter Dean Myers, who comes to school at Jack's behest, but that won't stop kids from recognizing both Jack's new exuberance and his earlier uptight mood. Best of all, the story shows how poetry inspires reading and writing with everyday words that make personal music. This is a book for teachers to read aloud and talk about with kids.”- Hazel Rochman (American Library Association)
Teacher Resources http://webenglishteacher.com/creech.html • Ideas for literature circles and cross-curricular lessons appropriate for several Creech titles, a brief author interview. • Includes questions for discussion or writing, summaries, and a variety of activities that support her novels
Teacher Resources http://www.sharoncreech.com • Meet Sharon, Picture Books, Novels, What’s New?, Teach Creech • Includes Summaries, Connections, Inspirations of her writings, and Tidbits on each book and novel
Teacher Resources http://litplans.com/authorsSharon_Creech.html • Includes Lesson Plans, Teacher Guides, Novel Unit Plans, and Study Guides • Over 80 links to Assignments, Discussion Questions, Books, and Activities