Naomi Deane (12), our narrator, lives with guardians Joe and Nula. Naomi and best friend Lizzie Scatterding, also an orphan, live in Blackbird Tree, USA. On her way to the creek to hunt for clay, Naomi is "crushed" by a body that falls out of a tree. At the same time they are trying to figure out what a Finn is and if its alive, sisters Sybil and Nula are in Rook's Orchard, Ireland, plotting a murder! Lo and behold Finn - and his friend Angle Doodle - have arrived in Blackbird Tree from Rook's Orchard. How could that be? This as not the quiet, normal summer Naomi had planned. What's up with all these unexpected events?
Two ideas come instantly to mind: building "family" or character trees; and drawing a map of the two towns (Blackbird Tree and Rook's Orchard). With older readers, there are opportunities to pull out legends, folktales, or other stories that appear through the plot.
10 and Up
9 to 13
Borrow. This is an enjoyable story, and you could easily read it two or three times to find some of the clues you may have missed.
Lizzie and Naomi are wonderful, with lyrical (almost poetic) voices. It took a bit to get into the stories shifting between Blackbird Tree and Rook's Orchard, but they slowly came together and the "why" went away. Although the story is fresh and original, the folktale / ghost story elements make it comfortable ... as does the humor! The short chapters add to the fun of reading this in smaller bits because it allowed the vividness of Creech's storytelling to sink in and to think up questions about what just happened.
Readers who love vivid imagery and quirky characters will enjoy unexpected moments of fun!
The author does a great job with introducing characters slowly and not all at once. However, the number of characters and shifting stories could make the book confusing for some readers or listeners.