I’ve always loved stories about plucky, resourceful orphans. The literary canon is full of them: Anne of Green Gables, The Secret Garden, Jane Eyre, Oliver Twist, and the list goes on. The dramatic stakes are immediately raised if a young protagonist is on his own in the world, and that pulls readers in like a magnet. Sharon Creech makes full use of this notion in her newest novel, the utterly charming The Great Unexpected.
A pair of orphaned girls in the tiny town of Blackbird Tree embark on an incredible adventure when a mysterious boy named Finn shows up by, quite literally, falling from a tree. As Naomi and Lizzie get to know that “Finn boy,” they notice other mysterious happenings in their little village. A cast of curious characters eventually lead them across the wide Atlantic to Ireland, where secrets are waiting to be discovered, secrets that will change the girls’ lives forever.
Newbery medal winner Creech is masterful with the art of interconnected plotlines, and her talent is brilliantly on display here. Little clues dropped along the way coalesce into an utterly satisfying reveal at the conclusion. But it’s Creech’s characters that make this a must-read—they’re funny, unique, and completely lovable. This has got to be one of my top middle grade picks for fall. Highly, highly recommended!
Read on, readers!
The Great Unexpected by Sharon Creech; HarperCollins; Ages 8-12; 16.99