Several months ago I saw on Twitter that one of my favorite middle-grade authors was coming out with a new book at the end of August. I was thrilled to read about this upcoming novel. I was intrigued by the title and cover. After having tried to get an ARC, I just sat back and waited patiently for the actual book to hit the shelves.
What It Is About: Reena and her family decide to make a major change in their lives. They move from the city and start a new life in rural Maine. Reena and her brother Luke aren't sure what to expect in Maine, but are ready for an adventure. As they settle into this quiet life, they meet an eccentric old lady named Mrs. Falala. Reena is surprised to learn that her parents have volunteered both herself and her brother to help this old lady at and around her home. The more time they spend with Mrs. Falala they get to know the other "residents" that live with her. There is a pig, a cat, a snake, and a very stubborn cow named Zora. Not only do Reena and Luck befriend these animals, they also become "pals" with two local children that help them fit in and learn about life in this rural area. Reena learns many life lessons about friendship, responsibility, and the bonds that humans can have with animals.
What I Thought Of It: The first surprise for me was that the story was written in a formal of poetry and prose. It had been a long time since I had read works of Creech in this format. This was a beautiful story of the human and animal connection. I sat down with the book yesterday afternoon and didn't get up until I had finished it. The plot may seem simple at first, but there were many underlying complexities that unfolded along the way. I adored Reena and her brother Luke. At the center of this touching story was Mrs. Falala who brought such joy, mystery, and life to the entire reading experience. Sharon's words were spot on, beautiful, and not wasted. An incredible reading experience and I know I will read this again because I know there were elements that I missed during the first reading.
Who Should Read It: This is a must-read for all Sharon Creech fans. They will not be disappointed. Adult readers will find the writing to be exquisite and heart-warming. I believe this would make for an excellent read aloud in grades four, five, or six. Readers who take the story on their own should be in grades five and/or six to truly appreciate the story. Of course middle-school readers will also be fascinated by the story of Reena, Luke, and Zora. Happy Reading!
Rating: 5 STARS out of 5 Stars