Tuesday, September 1, 2009


Biblio Bits Bloomability by Sharon Creech, read by Mandy Siegfried, Books on Tape, 2009 [1998], (ISBN 9780739385425)

Reading Level/Interest Age 850 lexile/ages 11-14

Genre Realistic fiction

Format Audio Book on CD

Plot Summary
Dinnie's from a nomadic family, always on the move to find better opportunities. When her teenaged sister comes home after a weekend away from home with a marriage certificate (and shortly thereafter shows signs of pregnancy) and her brother ends up in jail, Dinnie's aunt and uncle come to kidknap her (Dinnie's impression). They take her to Switzerland to the upscale boarding school at which they are both employed and Dinnie must come to terms with her new circumstances: away from her family for the first time, in a new educational setting, and in a new country. Dinnie's emotions are mixed, as she navigates a new group of friends and new experiences and begins to develop her own ideas and sense of self in this context.

Critical Evaluation
This is an engaging story that has periods of being more or less compelling. Essentially it's the story of Dinnie's self discovery, but sometimes it felt like self-absorption (completely age-appropriate, but sometimes boring to read). The secondary characters really shine here, especially Guthrie (lovable) and Lila (love to hate her), and their function in the story and in Dinnie's life were a way to explore the various ways to see the world. This volume was not as tightly constructed as Walk Two Moons or Chasing Redbird but fans of Sharon Creech will still enjoy her flair for dialogue and humor, as well as believable characters. The reader, Mandy Siegfried, did a good job of creating a wide variety of voices; at the beginning of my listening, I found her pace a little fast, but I became used to it.

Reader's Annotation
Getting whisked away to a Swiss boarding school never sounded so good. But will Dinnie just adapt into the woodwork, like she has in the other schools she has attended?

Author Information
Sharon Creech is the Newbery award-winning author of Walk Two Moons (1994) as well as many other titles for tweens and teens. She grew up in South Euclid, OH with her four siblings and parents. As a child, Creech visited her cousins in Kentucky and formed many happy memories there; she created the fictitious Bybanks, KY out of the memories of these years, which has appeared in several of her titles. She has taught high school English in Switzerland and England, and currently lives in New Jersey with her husband. She is the mother of two grown children. (Information in this author bio comes from the author's website.)

Challenge issues
Passing references to marijuana and alcohol use, as well as the teen pregnancy of Dinnie's sister.

Booktalking Ideas
This could be a good selection for a discussion about nontraditional families; Dinnie's aunt and uncle serve as her parental figures, as well as the family she creates through her friendships at school. Other themes might be living abroad or stories set at boarding schools.

Curriculum Ties
Social issues like friendship would be the obvious tie or simply growing up and changing perspectives, perhaps in a health unit.

Why this book?
I remember reading and (I thought) liking this book from when it was first published. I still enjoyed it this time around but it wasn't quite all that I remember it to be; perhaps I was remembering Absolutely Normal Chaos. Still, an appealing read for the tween that is considering what it means to fledge the nest, whether through developing new ideas or physically being apart from ones family.

Parenting Magazine Reading Magic Award 1999

Rockport Public Library owns?

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