The Great Unexpected

( 25 )

Overview

Celebrate the Unexpected

In Blackbird Tree live two orphan girls: Naomi Deane, brimming with curiosity, and Lizzie Scatterding, who could talk the ears off a cornfield. Naomi has a knack for being around when trouble happens, for she knows all the peculiar people in town. But then the strangely charming Finn boy drops out of a tree. And the Dingle Dangle man appears, asking questions. Curious surprises are revealed—three locked trunks, a crooked bridge, and that boy. Soon Naomi ...

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The Great Unexpected

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Overview

Celebrate the Unexpected

In Blackbird Tree live two orphan girls: Naomi Deane, brimming with curiosity, and Lizzie Scatterding, who could talk the ears off a cornfield. Naomi has a knack for being around when trouble happens, for she knows all the peculiar people in town. But then the strangely charming Finn boy drops out of a tree. And the Dingle Dangle man appears, asking questions. Curious surprises are revealed—three locked trunks, a crooked bridge, and that boy. Soon Naomi and Lizzie find themselves zooming toward a future neither could ever have imagined. Meanwhile, across the ocean, an old lady whose heart has been deceived concocts a plan. . . .

As two worlds are woven together, Newbery Medal winner Sharon Creech celebrates the gossamer thread that connects us all.

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Editorial Reviews

The New York Times Book Review
How can life be so painful yet so beautiful? How can we make sense of what we feel? Many of the most beloved children's books ask these questions by treading lightly on reality, allowing young readers to wade ankle-deep in the joys and agonies of being human without sinking into existential muck. The Great Unexpected does just that…Creech…has a deft touch…
—Elizabeth Weil
Publishers Weekly
In a story that is part folktale, part mystery, and part comedy, Newbery Medalist Creech (Walk Two Moons) traces a series of strange events, beginning with a boy’s fall from a tree, which is witnessed by an orphan named Naomi and her friend Lizzie. The boy, Finn, might be part of the Dimmens clan, who live up on Black Dog Night Hill, or his appearance might be more ethereal in nature. In alternating chapters, readers are whisked between two evocative locations: Naomi’s town of Blackbird Tree and an impressive Irish estate owned by an ailing mystery novel buff. Neighbors, strangers, and a collection of odd artifacts are all part of a puzzle Naomi tries to solve—and readers will be working just as hard to do so. The fun that drives the book forward derives from Naomi’s plainspoken narration (her barely concealed jealousy over Lizzie’s interactions with Finn is especially well-done), along with uncovering the surprising connections between characters and wondering whether magic is at the root of the baffling occurrences. Ages 8–12. Agent: Amy Berkower, Writers House. (Sept.)
Children's Literature - Heather Robertson Mason
Is it possible to discover where you came from when you have no memories of it at all? Is it possible for stories to separate and reconnect with others in a different time? Is it possible to be loved, to be normal, to be part of something bigger, when you are an orphan and alone? Lizzie and Naomi are two orphans living in the tiny town of Blackbird Tree. They know everyone, both the well-respected townspeople and the peculiar outsiders. However, neither one expected what would happen when the boy fell out of to the town's namesake tree. Who he is and where he came from are a complete mystery, but both girls are feeling the pull of new love, along with the pressing of unanswered questions about their past. Added to the mix is the Dingle Dangle man poking around town and asking questions that no one wants to explain or answer. Clues abound in this story, but the puzzle they are to solve is never clear. Adding to the mystery is the secondary storyline of two elderly friends whose conversations pop in every couple of chapters with the only obvious connection being the Dingle Dangle man. While this book is difficult to understand when looking at traditional plot structure, the two girls' characters are so beautifully drawn that the story is a delight to read. The minor characters are all tragic sorts who have faced loss in its many forms, yet they seem to keep the book moving to its positive conclusion. You cannot read this book like a novel; you read it like a poem. Untraditional, yes, but it is definitely worth reading. Reviewer: Heather Robertson Mason
School Library Journal
Gr 5–7—After an epigraph, prologue, and first chapter that increasingly pull readers in deeper and deeper, The Great Unexpected-part realistic fiction, part mystery, and part ghost story-disappoints. In the small, probably Southern town of Blackbird Tree, orphaned 12-year-old Naomi Deane receives a whack on the head as an inert boy tumbles down from a tree. Joined by her motormouth friend, Lizzie Scatterding, she pronounces the boy "dead," but he soon sits up and starts asking questions in a strange accent-clearly, he's not from around there. Naomi Deane's narration constitutes the bulk of the story, but every third or fourth chapter takes place "Across the Ocean" in a grand Irish estate, where readers follow the antics of elderly companions Mrs. Kavanagh and Miss Pilpenny. Creech gradually reveals the connections between the two story lines; clues appear in appropriately small doses that will appeal to young detectives. But a confusing narrative style makes the book hard to follow. Instead of consistently using a progressive or episodic structure for either plotline, Creech alternates between the two, which places readers in an uncomfortably disorienting position upon beginning each chapter: Does this start where we left off, or have several weeks passed? Overuse of quirky and alliterative names such as "the dapper Dingle Dangle man," the "dim Dimmenses," "Crazy Cora," and "Witch Wiggins" distracts from the story. For better-told small-town adventures and rich language, try Richard Peck's A Long Way from Chicago (Dial, 1998) or Susan Patron's The Higher Power of Lucky (S & S, 2006).—Allison Bruce, The Berkeley Carrol School, Brooklyn, NY
Kirkus Reviews
When Finn falls out of a tree and into the life of Naomi, he brings more than a touch of Ireland's magic. Naomi and her friend, Lizzie Scatterding, are both foster children living in the quiet town of Blackbird Tree. Life takes on a mysterious air when Finn boy and the Dangle Doodle man show up in a town that's already inhabited by such characters as Witch Wiggins and Crazy Cora. Naomi carries the terrible scars, internal and on her arm, of her father's death and a dog's attack. Her guardian parents each share their hearts; Nula remembers privation and her estranged family in Ireland, and Joe teaches Naomi to dream and fly high into the clouds for inner peace. In a parallel story across the sea in Ireland, two women talk of times past, lost families and setting things right. Creech, a Newbery Award–winning author, deftly weaves a multi-layered story in which past and present thread their way around Naomi the romantic and Lizzie the singer. With a Finn boy for each generation, there's joy in the air and in the reading. An enchanting tale to treasure in which ordinary folk find fairies' gold, run across crooked bridges and mend their broken hearts. (Fiction. 8-12)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061892349
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 9/3/2013
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 109,460
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years
  • Lexile: 720L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.34 (w) x 7.50 (h) x 0.56 (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.

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

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 25 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(18)

4 Star

(3)

3 Star

(1)

2 Star

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1 Star

(2)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 25 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 22, 2012

    I really loved it a lot! you have to at least try reading it. It was a simple but great read.

    This book is all about Naomi and her life. I usually don't read books like this but by the end I was really intrigued and sad that it had to end. I thin everyone should read this. I fell in love with it right when I started it. I loved this book.

    5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 21, 2012

    Noone

    Really good could not take my eyes off of it it is so so good it is worth bying

    5 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 10, 2012

    Hi

    This book is mainly about a girl winning first place at her gymnastices meet and then after words she gets an unxpekted gift she gets it from a mysterious person thenshe gets freeked out.

    3 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 19, 2013

    Best Ever Ever Ever!!!!!

    In the little town of Blackbird Tree live two orphan girls: one Naomi Deane, who's curiosity can sometimes get the best of her, and her BFF, Lizzie Scatterding(head), who talks so much you would not want to be in a small room with her. Alone. Naomi has a habit for being around when trouble's stirred up. For she knows every person in town that's out of the ordinary- such as Witch Wiggins, Crazy Cora, and one armed Farley. But then a strangely charming, good smelling, and highly peculiar boy comes along. You want to know how? Well, let's just say...
    umm... we'll say his body fell from a tree. In front of Naomi. He told Naomi his name was Finn. Then to add to the list of wierd people, an odd doodle dingle dangle man comes along asking lot's of questions. That boy, a crooked bridge, three locked trunks, and a pair of rooks(crows) are all examples of curious suprises that are released and revealed. Nor Naomi or Lizzie could ever have imagined the future they were inching closer and closer to. In the meantime, an old lady across the ocean, who has a deceived heart concocts a plan.

    I enjoyed this book very much because it was full of exciting events. Every single chapter was a cliff-hanger making the book very hard to put down. Sharon Creech is now my #1 favorite author.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted January 22, 2013

    Hey, put down twilight and pick up this book.This book is just a

    Hey, put down twilight and pick up this book.This book is just about the life of a young orphan named Naomi. It isnt really a love story like i thought it would and there isnt really a moral. All it is, is the life of a girl. What i found to be very interesting about this book is that it takes place in two places at once and the reason it is able to do this is because there are two stories going on at once. So 1 chapter is about naomi,the main character, then the next would be about Sybil but i wont say who she is because then it would ruin the book. I beleive the 2 settings of this book are America and Ireland. I would give this book 3.5 stars and the reason why is because there are some flaws in the story. For example in the VERY beginning of the story they introduce a character named Finn that is hyped up to be a important role but has no affect in the book. Basically at the begin of the book a boy named flynn gets thrown into the book and is a main character but half in into the story he just disappears like he was never there and no one really notices. The other only big Flaw in this book is that there ends up to at least 3 characters with the name Finn and it gets really confusing. Something that the writer did very well was the distance between new characters. What i mean by this is that the writer added characters in one at a time instead of just throwing them all in together like some other books ive read. This led to little confusion in minor characters.I feel like each character was balanced out perfectly in this book and that made it smoother to read.and what really had me turning pages was that this book always had me wondering what is "The Great Unexpected". This book is a fiction but the characters a very mortal and realistic so it feels like a biography. There is one more thing i didnt like and that is that the cover of the book is very unrelative. I cant really compare this book with another because this book is very unique. The very last thing i love about this book is that the 2 stories come together and everything makes since at the end and leaves almost no questions. Plus the grammar is very basic so it is readable at any age

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 21, 2012

    Left hanging?

    This book has good story intentions but nothing was ever explained. Is this supposed to be a series? I felt the story was moving along but then it suddenly ended which left many unanswered questions. Unless, there is more to come I would not recommend this book.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 19, 2012

    The Great Unexpected

    This is a great book. I got it about a week ago and read it in 2 days. A great storyline, and i love how Creech wove two completely different stories together. The characters were greatly described, and the emotion as well. I love this book and would definitely reccommend it to anyone. Posted by: Dara K

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 11, 2014

    Awesome book

    Awesome book I loved it it has kind of a confusing plot but overall great book u should totally read it.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 19, 2013

    Claudia

    This book was too good to put down i loved it so much

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 4, 2013

    Love it.

    Love it. Love it.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 4, 2012

    Sharon Creech's new novel, The Great Unexpected, is (not unexpec

    Sharon Creech's new novel, The Great Unexpected, is (not unexpectedly) a delightful read. In masterful, true Creech style, the characters are memorable, the language refreshing and often poetic, and the tale an enchanting page-turner filled with secrets, humor, decisions, "coincidences," and deeper meanings. The townspeople of Blackbird Tree, particularly the children, meet misfortune with a matter-of-fact bravery. The only thing that scares Naomi is dogs. The only thing that scares Lizzie is being without a home. They understand each other's fears and quirks and nothing can get in the way of their friendship-except perhaps the mysterious appearance of a boy named Finn? And Finn is only the first of peculiar happenings.

    While best for ages 8 to 12 (and the younger readers may not make all the marvelous connections at first), this is one of those rare books that readers of all ages will treasure, not only for its engaging story, but its enduring message of hope.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 11, 2014

    Greate book

    AMAZING BOOK it is now one of my favorites

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 16, 2014

    You have to pay attention

    To fully get the story, you have to pay attention to details. Other than that, it was a good book.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 17, 2013

    Best Sharon Creech yet!

    Abosolutely wonderful, I love the excitement and mystery of this book. Being Irish myself, I really apprecieated Creech's focus on my country. It is basically about an orphan named Naomi and her life, with an interesting and unexpected twist at the end. It is one of those books that shows how pre-judging a reader can be. Though it not a mystery, I think that you would especially enjoy it if you like mysteries. Even so, I highly recommend this book to everyone. Thank you Sharon Creech!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 10, 2013

    Click Here

    This book is very good do you know if she is going to make another book related to this one?

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 29, 2013

    Is it good?

    I am just starting is this really good or just do not read.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 11, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted October 4, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted December 16, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted May 11, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

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