Friday, October 9, 2009

Unfinished Angel

Biblio Bits The Unfinished Angel by Sharon Creech, Harper Collins, 2009 (ISBN 9780061430954)

Reading Level/Interest Age Ages 10-12

Genre Magical Realism

Plot Summary
Narrated in short chapters by an unfinished angel, this latest book by acclaimed author Sharon Creech, takes us back to the Ticino (the region in Switzerland you may remember from Bloomability). The Angel is an endearing character who is not quite certain about where s/he (gender neutral) fits into the grand scheme of things and is not sure s/he understands the rules and expectations of being an angel. When Zola and her father move into the Casa where the Angel has taken up residence, the Angel realizes that Zola is one of the few humans who can actually see her/him, and they fall into an unlikely friendship. Zola seems a little bossy at first, trying to tell the Angel how to be, and what to do, but eventually they unite in an effort to solve the problem of a small group of homeless children.

Critical Evaluation
A short book, told in short chapters, may appeal to some reluctant readers. The Angel's vivid observations about "peoples" and indignation about the trouble they cause are humorous and a great source for reflection. What is most enjoyable about this story is the dialect and invented language, malapropisms, and portmanteaus of the Angel ("surprise" + "please"="surplease"). Observing Creech's fun with language is truly a language-lover's delight! There are some areas of the plot that are not quite explored fully, such as why Zola's mother and brother come to Switzerland so much later, but readers will probably be distracted by the many other details of the story that are brought completely to life through the Angel's unique narration.

Reader's Annotation
Imagine I am not surpleased by the appearance of these peoples in my Casa, this Zola and her many layers of dresses in so many colors, who can also see me! Yes, she does, and I am thinking, could she also be an angel herself, here to teach me the better ways of being an angel?

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. 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
I imagine there might be people who are offended by an angel being personified as slightly unsure of the Plan and his/her role on earth. It is not a very dignified representation of an angel, and that might bother some.

Booktalking Ideas
The most obvious booktalking buddy for this book would be Cynthia Rylant's The Heavenly Villiage because it shares the sweetness and endearing comfort of The Unfinished Angel while introducing some philosophical and spiritual themes to readers.

Curriculum Ties
Religion, philosophy, and spirituality could be ties. But perhaps it could also have a place in a curriculum unit on Renaissance art, and the depictions of angelic beings who appear to have such human characteristics, as opposed to previous artistic movements which had less realism.

Why this book?
For Sharon Creech fans, just the name on the cover will draw them in. A great choice for those who enjoy playful language, those who are in the mood for a feel–good story, and those who are interested in questions of philosophy and spirituality.

Too new to tell.

Rockport Public Library owns?

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