Chasing Redbird

( 144 )

Overview

Zinny Taylor: Explorer

It started out as an ordinary summer. But the minute thirteen-year-old Zinny discovered the old, overgrown trail that ran through the woods behind her family's house, she realized that things were about to change.

Right from the start, Zinny knew that uncovering the trail would be more than just a summer project. It was her chance to finally make people notice her, and to have a place she could call her very own. But more...

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Chasing Redbird

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Overview

Zinny Taylor: Explorer

It started out as an ordinary summer. But the minute thirteen-year-old Zinny discovered the old, overgrown trail that ran through the woods behind her family's house, she realized that things were about to change.

Right from the start, Zinny knew that uncovering the trail would be more than just a summer project. It was her chance to finally make people notice her, and to have a place she could call her very own. But more than that, Zinny knew that the trail somehow held the key to all kinds of questions. And that the only way to understand her family, her Aunt Jessie's death, and herself was to find out where it went.

From Newbery Medal-winning author Sharon Creech comes an intricately woven tale of a young girl who sets out in search of her place in the world—and discovers it in her own backyard.

Thirteen-year-old Zinnia Taylor uncovers family secrets and self truths while clearing a mysterious settler trail that begins on her family's farm in Kentucky.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Alexandria LaFaye
Zinny Taylor is tired of being asked, "Which Taylor are you?" She decides to make her mark in the world by uncovering an old foot trail. As she uncovers the old trail, she works through the pain of losing her Aunt Jessie and lets go of the guilt she felt for surviving the Scarlet Fever that killed her cousin Rose. Throw in a little romance, a healthy dose of sibling rivalry, and a pinch of fear for an uncle who starts chasing after the ghost of his wife, and you have the unique blend of humor, family dynamics, and magic that make this a noteworthy novel.
Children's Literature - Alexandria LaFaye
Zinny Taylor is tired of being asked, "Which Taylor are you?" She decides to make her mark in the world by uncovering an old foot trail. As she uncovers the old trail, she works through the pain of loosing her Aunt Jessie and lets go of the guilt she felt for surviving the Scarlet Fever that killed her cousin Rose. Throw in a little romance, a healthy dose of sibling rivalry, and a pinch of fear for an uncle who starts chasing after the ghost of his wife, and you have the unique blend of humor, family dynamics, and magic that make this a noteworthy novel.
School Library Journal
Gr 5-8Creech returns to Appalachia in this story of 13-year-old Zinny, a middle child struggling to find and accept herself plus look for a way to come to terms with the death of her beloved Aunt Jessie and her feelings of responsibility for that death. The novel revolves around an old overgrown trail that Zinny discovers and proceeds to resurrect. Meanwhile, her admirer, Jake Boone, is persistent about bringing her presents yet fails to convince her he is not really after her sister, May, as so many other boys have been. Uncle Nate seems to be losing touch with reality after his wife's death, and guilt rooted in the past resurfaces to confuse Zinny, who comes to feel that the trail she is uncovering will somehow bring sanity, safety, and a sense of identity to her life. It does, but in ways she could never have predicted. The journey for Zinny and readers is intriguing, delightful, and touching. Reminiscent of many novels about the rural South with wonderfully quirky characters and a focus on the setting of the natural world, this story seems much fresher and tangibly more in the present than most. Not as complex as Creech's Walk Two Moons (HarperCollins, 1994), there is still plenty to discuss such as the symbolism of the redbird in the title and the ethical issues surrounding Jake's gifts and Zinny's mistrust of his affection for her.Carol A. Edwards, Minneapolis Public Library
School Library Journal
Gr 4-6-Newbery Medal-winner Sharon Creech's story of a young girl discovering that life is a tangle of mysteries, surprises, and everyday occurrences-a journey that often needs unraveling and that sometimes must be traveled alone. Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A teenager lost in the maelstrom of her large Virginia- mountain family devises a personal walkabout when she takes on the project of single-handedly rehabilitating a 20-mile-long wilderness trail.

Until recently, Zinnia Taylor, 13, spent a lot of time in the "Quiet Zone" of Aunt Jessie and Uncle Nate's house next door. But Aunt Jessie has died, and Uncle Nate remains bereft. Calling her his Redbird, he spends most of his time chasing through the woods, believing he is in pursuit of her. Adding to Uncle Nate and Zinny's burden is the death of her cousin, Rose, who died of the whooping cough when she and Zinny were both four. Amidst this pain, Zinny is looking for a place to call her own, for a sense of who she is, and for someone—anyone—who cares about her "most." The plotting can become capricious in the extreme, but Creech (Pleasing the Ghost, 1996, etc.) crams her novel full of wonderful characters, proficient dialogue, bracing descriptions, and a merry use of language. A bundle of contradictions, Zinny is at her prickly, individualistic best when fending off the overtures of 16-year-old Jake Boone, whom she (mistakenly) suspects of using her to get to her older sister.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780064406963
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 4/28/2012
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 272
  • Sales rank: 120,143
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.12 (w) x 7.62 (h) x 0.54 (d)

Meet the Author

Sharon Creech

Sharon Creech is the author of the Newbery Medal winner Walk Two Moons and the Newbery Honor Book The Wanderer. Her other work includes the novels The Great Unexpected, The Unfinished Angel, Hate That Cat, The Castle Corona, Replay, Heartbeat, Granny Torrelli Makes Soup, Ruby Holler, Love That Dog, Bloomability, Absolutely Normal Chaos, Chasing Redbird, and Pleasing the Ghost, as well as three picture books: A Fine, Fine School; Fishing in the Air; and Who's That Baby? Ms. Creech and her husband live in Maine.

Sharon Creech is the Newberry Medal-winning author of Walk Two Moons. Her other work includes Bloomability, Absolutely Normal Chaos, Chasing Redbird, and Pleasing the Ghost. After spending eighteen years teaching and writing in Europe, Sharon Creech and her husband have recently returned to the United States. They live near Princeton, New Jersey.

Good To Know

In her interview with Barnes & Noble.com, Creech shared some fun facts about herself:

"One of my most interesting jobs was in graduate school, working with the Federal Theatre Project archives (a Library of Congress collection, then based at George Mason University). I catalogued original illustrations for set and costume designs, some by Orson Welles. It was fascinating work!"

"I once fell 20 feet from a tree, was knocked unconscious, and when I picked myself up and straggled home, my parents thought I was making it up. However, when my brother and I fabricated a story about an encounter with a bear, they believed that! So maybe I learned very early on that fiction was more interesting to listeners!"

"As readers can probably tell from my books, I love the outdoors. I love to hike, kayak, and swim. I also love to read (which is probably not a surprise) and I love the theater and art museums. I especially love all the instruments of art: inks, pens, paintbrushes, watercolors and oils, fine papers and canvases, and although I love to mess around with these tools and objects, I have minimal artistic skills."

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    1. Hometown:
      Pennington, New Jersey
    1. Date of Birth:
      July 29, 1945
    2. Place of Birth:
      Cleveland, Ohio
    1. Education:
      B.A., Hiram College, 1967; M.A., George Mason University, 1978

Read an Excerpt

Chasing Redbird

Chapter One

Tangled Spaghetti

Worms dangled in Aunt Jessie's kitchen: red worms swarming over a lump of brown mud in a bowl. The bowl and the worms and the lump of mud were in a cross-stitched picture hanging above the stove.

When I learned to read, I made out these words in blue letters beneath the bowl: Life is a bowl of spaghetti ... Those worms weren't worms; they were spaghetti. I imagined myself rummaging among the twisted strands of pasta. That was my life?

There were more words: ... every now and then you get a meatball. That mud was a meatball! I saw that meatball as a tremendous bonus you might unearth in all those convoluted spaghetti strands of your life. It was something to look forward to, a reward for all that slogging through your pasta.

In my thirteen years, I've had meatballs, and I've had lumps of mud, too.

My name is Zinny (for Zinnia) Taylor. I live with a slew of brothers and sisters and my parents on a farm in Bybanks, Kentucky. Our house fits snug up against Uncle Nate and Aunt Jessie's, the two houses yoked together like one. Sometimes it seems too crowded on our side, and you don't know who you are. You feel like everybody's spaghetti is all tangled in one pot.

Last spring I discovered a trail at the back of our property -- an old trail, overgrown with grass and weeds. I knew instantly that it was mine and mine alone. What I didn't know was how long it was or how hard it would be to uncover the whole thing, or that it would turn into such an obsession, that I'd be as driven as a chickeneating dog in a henhouse.

This trail was just like thespaghetti of me and my family, of Uncle Nate and Aunt Jessie, and of Jake Boone. It took a heap of doing to untangle it.

Chasing Redbird. Copyright © by Sharon Creech. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Reading Group Guide

Introduction

Chasing Redbird is a complex and exciting work of fiction that explores real issues teenagers are dealing with, including death, identity, and relationships. Thirteen-year-old Zinny Taylor lives in Bybanks, Kentucky, with too many brothers and sisters--a mess of "tadpoles" and "pumpkins" is what her uncle Nate calls them. When Zinny discovers a mysterious overgrown trail that begins on her family farm, she thinks she's finally found a place of her own, a place she can go, away from her family, to hear herself think. But what Zinny comes to realize is that the mysteries of the trail are intertwined with her own unanswered questions and family secrets, and that the trail and her passion to uncover it is leading her on a journey home.

Interweaving the story with places and characters from her Newbery Award-winning novel Walk Two Moons, Sharon Creech tells a beautifully crafted story about a young girl discovering that life is a tangle of mysteries, surprises, and everyday occurrences a journey that often needs unraveling and that sometimes must be traveled alone.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Throughout Chasing Redbird, Zinny experiences conflicting and confusing feelings about the people who are special to her—-Uncle Nate, Jake, even her parents. Give some examples of Zinny's confusion about these characters and explain why she feels so conflicted.

  2. How does the natural world of the woods play a part in Zinny's story? Do the other members of Zinny's family share her enthusiasm for nature?

  3. Throughout the novel Zinny continuallyexplains her life as a "bowl of spaghetti" (p.1). Discuss this metaphor and how it works within the story.

  4. Why do you think Jake steals the dog, the ring, and the car? Is it all because he's "sweet on" (p.100) Zinny, or are there other reasons for his stealing? From the clues that Sharon Creech gives you about Jake's life, what kind of relationship do you think Jake has with his parents? Does he share the kind of closeness Zinny has with her parents?

  5. There are many supernatural events in Chasing Redbird. Does the ghost of Aunt Jessie actually wander through the woods? What kinds of emotions does Zinny feel every time she senses Aunt Jessie's ghost?

  6. Zinny gets upset when her father refers to her mission to clear the trail as "the trail thing" (p.119). Have you ever had the experience of someone's underestimating or belittling a project about which you felt very strongly? How did you feel when this happened?

  7. Constantly being referred to as an anonymous "pumpkin," a "tadpole," or worst of all, the "strangest and stingiest dirt-daubing doodlebug" (p. 52), Zinny strikes out to clear the trail. By the end of the novel, do you think Zinny has successfully set herself apart from her brothers and sisters by creating the trail? Has her identity changed in the eyes of her family, the public, Jake? Does Zinny think she has changed herself by the end of the story? How can you tell?

  8. Zinny often talks about missing her friend Sal, who is the main character in Walk Two Moons. For those who have read Walk Two Moons: How is Zinny's mission to clear the trail similar to Sal's race to retrace her mother's steps? Compare how these two main characters deal with the losses in their lives.

  9. Both Zinny's cousin Rose and Aunt Jessie fall to untimely deaths and throughout the novel Zinny feels much guilt about the loss. Consider this quote from Zinny: "Why did people get old? Why did people get sick? Why couldn't the hand of God fix whooping cough? Why couldn't it snatch a woman back from a drawer? Why couldn't it fix Uncle Nate? I couldn't stand it. I wanted answers to my questions, and I wanted them immediately" (p.179). How does this quote help explain Zinny's feelings about her aunt's and cousin's deaths?

  10. How do you react to Zinny's behavior in the shocking and powerful scene in which she places a pillow over Uncle Nate's head? Reread p.197 as you discuss.

  11. Sharon Creech spends a good deal of time describing the different portions of the Bybanks-Chocton trail. Discuss the interesting names of these trails—Maiden's Walk, Baby Toe Ridge, Shady Death Ridge, and Surrender Bridge. Consider what these names mean with reference to Zinny's story.

  12. Uncle Nate often calls Aunt Jessie his "Redbird." What does the term Redbird symbolize in the novel?

About the Author:

Sharon Creech is the author of Walk Two Moons, which received the 1995 Newbery Medal, was an ALA Notable Children's Book, and was listed as an NCTE Notable Trade Book, among other prestigious awards. Her other books include, Absolutely Normal Chaos and Pleasing the Ghost. Sharon Creech lives in Surrey, England, for nine months of the year. During the summer months she returns to Lake Chautauqua in western New York State to spend time with her grown children.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 144 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(109)

4 Star

(22)

3 Star

(5)

2 Star

(4)

1 Star

(4)

Your Rating:

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 144 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 8, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    I Absolutly love this book!!!!!

    This is one of the best books I have read! I am your typical book worm. I read this book a while back and I loved it! Sharon Chreech does a great job creating unique characters. The story is not only touching it is also funny! I highly recomend this book to anyone of all ages!

    6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted January 9, 2009

    Chasing Redbird

    I read this book years ago when I was in junior high and remember it being a very intriguing book. As I was looking through my bookshelf recently, I came across the book and decided to read it again. Even as an adult, I loved the book (for the most part) and would highly recommend it to any teenager. This is a book that makes you think . . . and will help you find yourself through reading this book. <BR/> This book is about a 13 year old girl named Zinny, who has 6 siblings and whose parents who seem to overlook her. She has a strong relationship with her Uncle Nate and Aunt Jessie, but when her Aunt Jessie dies, everything in her life seems to be a whirlwind. She finds an old trail near her farm that she begins to clear, and becomes enveloped in blazing the trail. Although she doesn't understand at first why the trail is so important to her, she later realizes that it is to find out who she really is, to prove to her family that she is responsible, and to understand more about her families past and her Aunt Jessie's death. This would be a great book for someone trying to understand closure and death.<BR/> My only slight concern with this book is the character of Jake Boone. Although I liked the fact that he was "sweet on" Zinny, I did not like that he stole things to give to her. I don't know if young adults would get the idea that stealing is okay as long as you gave those things to someone else or not. Although Jake is punished for his actions in the end, I just thought that it was a little weird.<BR/> Overall, I give this book four stars. It is a book that will definitely make you think long after you have finished the book!

    6 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 4, 2012

    Great but...

    Ever since i was a kid (well ok im 13 but ever since i was a much younger kid) i would read and then reread these books. Whenever i was mad at my siblings i would lock myself in my room and read "chasing red bird" or my all time fav " absolutely normal chaos" and just basically loved them to pieces. I loved everything about them: the plot twists, the depth of all the characters, the adventure, the mystery, the hint of romance and the dash of heartbreak. But i esepecially loved the covers SO why on earth would anyone change them to the manga junk or whatever they r now! Sharon if ur reading this please slap whoever had that "brilliant" idea! Because if u wont i most certainly will!

    P.S read the books! They re fantastic! Luv ya sharon!;)

    P.P.S (oops! Too many p's!;) i am only giving this 4 stars because of the abominable covers!:(

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 28, 2008

    awesome book

    Creech did a fantastic job on this book. several times it made me cry and i did not like it when i had to sit the book down. again amazing book.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 6, 2008

    Favorite book since my childhood

    This book has a special place in my heart.

    4 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 12, 2012

    Not sure

    Not sure if the book is good or not because the sample only gave me six pages and that was just enough to get to the end of the contents page. Disappointing. They are not going to sell very well if people cant even read a page of the book.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 2, 2013

    Amazing page turning book, that you will absolutely love! Zinny

    Amazing page turning book, that you will absolutely love!

    Zinny Taylor lives with her 6 siblings and parents. Her parents don't notice her much and get mixed up between all their children. She has a very close relationship with her aunt and uncle, but also when her aunt dies she stumbled upon a trail and then became convinced that aunt Jessie had wanted her to find that trail and wanted her to finish it, which made her think that she was connected to the trail and had to finish it at any cost. but she also figured out that someone had a little crush on her because he would always give her gifts. During the book you will be wondering if she will ever get the trial finished?, if she and the boy will ever get together?, what will happen next to her while she is on the trail? I didnt think i was going to be to interested in this book till i actually sat down and read the first few chapters and it became so addicting i finished this 260 page book in about a week! The sense of wonder and adventure had interested me and that there were some many things that could go wrong as she traveled into the wilderness by herself, or so she had thought. Don't be discouraged by the front cover or the first 3 chapters, just read it and you will see for yourself if its addicting or boring it all depends on what books you like, but i recommend you READ THIS BOOK!!!!!!!! 

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 6, 2008

    what a book

    i just finished this book and it was awesome i didin't have enough time in school and its been a month and found it at the library i loved the ending i hope i can find another great book by her

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 18, 2007

    i love this book

    this book is the best book i have read in a while!!it is a book for the whole family!!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 9, 2013

    Awesome!!

    I just started the book and i can't stop reading it because its so good and interesting!!! Sharon Creech is my favorite author and i'm trying to read all of her books this summer,thats my goal!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 2, 2013

    Sharron Creech Rocks

    Sharron Creech writes the best books ever this book is on of the best!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 22, 2013

    Love this book so much!

    I would give this 100 stars. I have not got this on the nook, but im reading the real book in school. I wish there was a other book, maybe someday i could make up a 2nd book that Zinny is more older and falls in love (you know who if you read the book).


    HOPE YOU GET IT!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 27, 2012

    Bugg

    This book is wonderful but very sad it will make you cry cause i did when it started and when it ended cause i did not want it to

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 30, 2013

    Hello

    Hi

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 23, 2013

    Loved it

    This book is amazing

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 20, 2013

    WOW!!!!!!!

    This is ama zing can't wait till end!!!!! :) :)

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 20, 2013

    Love it

    Very good book. I definitely reccomend it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 15, 2013

    Dawn to cat

    Wanna chat?

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 15, 2013

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 28, 2013

    Love this book

    A page turner

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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