by Sharon Creech


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When 13-year-old Dinnie Doone is plucked out of her troubled life and whisked away to an international school in Switzerland, she learns to trust herself and discovers the beautiful "bloomabilities" her new life has to offer.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780756902544
Publisher: Harpercollins Childrens Books
Publication date: 01/28/2001
Pages: 273
Sales rank: 771,040
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 7.40(h) x 0.80(d)
Age Range: 10 - 13 Years

About the Author

Sharon Creech has written twenty-one books for young people and is published in over twenty languages. Her books have received awards in both the U.S. and abroad, including the Newbery Medal for Walk Two Moons, the Newbery Honor for The Wanderer, and Great Britain’s Carnegie Medal for Ruby Holler.

Before beginning her writing career, Sharon Creech taught English for fifteen years in England and Switzerland. She and her husband now live in Maine, “lured there by our grandchildren,” Creech says.


Pennington, New Jersey

Date of Birth:

July 29, 1945

Place of Birth:

Cleveland, Ohio


B.A., Hiram College, 1967; M.A., George Mason University, 1978

Read an Excerpt

Bloomability RB/SB

Chapter One

First Life

In my first life, I lived with my mother, and my older brother and sister, Crick and Stella, and with my father when he wasn't on the road. My father was a trucker, or sometimes a mechanic or a picker, a plucker or painter. He called himself a Jack-of-all-trades (Jack was his real name), but sometimes there wasn't any trade in whatever town we were living in, so off he would go in search of a job somewhere else. My mother would start packing, and we'd wait for a phone call from him that would tell us it was time to join him.

He'd always say, "I found us a great place! Wait'll you see it!"

Each time we moved, we had fewer boxes, not more. My mother would say, "Do you really need all those things, Dinnie? They're just things. Leave them."

By the time I was twelve, we'd followed my father from Kentucky to Virginia to North Carolina to Tennessee to Ohio to Indiana to Wisconsin to Oklahoma to Oregon to Texas to California to New Mexico. My things fit in one box. Sometimes we lived in the middle of a noisy city, but most of the time Dad had found us a tilted house on a forgotten road near a forgotten town.

My mother had been a city girl, my father a country boy; and as far as I could tell, my mother spent most of her time trying to forget that she'd been a city girl. Those few times that we lived in the middle of the city, though, she seemed as if she were right at home, in her real home, her permanent home.

She'd get a job in an office or a design studio, instead of a diner. She knew how to use buses and weave in and out of crowds, and she didn't seem to hear the horns and sirens andjackhammers.

Those things drove my father crazy. "I know there's work here," he'd say, "but there's too many bodies and cars everywhere. You're like to get killed just stepping into the road. No place to raise kids."

My mother would be real quiet after he'd said something like this, and pretty soon he'd be off looking for a better place to live, and she'd be packing again. My sister Stella had a theory that Dad was keeping us on the move so my mother's family wouldn't find us. He didn't trust a single one of her brothers or sisters, and he didn't trust her parents, either. He thought they had "airs" and would talk my mother into moving back to New York, where she'd come from. He said they looked down their noses at us.

Once, when I was seven or eight, and we were living in Wisconsin-or no, maybe it was Oklahoma-or it could've been Arkansas (I forgot Arkansas-we lived there for six months, I believe), a thin woman with gray hair pulled back in a tight bun was sitting in our kitchen one day when I came home from school. Before I could shake off my coat, she'd wrapped me in a perfumed hug and called me carissima and her sweet kitten.

"I'm not a kitten," I said, sliding out the side door. Crick was throwing a basketball at an invisible hoop.

"There's a lady in there," I said.

Crick aimed, shot that ball into a graceful high arc, and watched it bounce off the edge of the garage next door. "Crud," he said, "that's no lady. That's your grandma Fiorelli."

There was a big argument that night after I'd gone to bed behind the drapes hung between the kitchen and the side room. My Dad was gone-he'd taken one look at our lady grandma and bolted out the door, never even pausing to say hello. It was Mom and Grandma in the kitchen.

Mom was telling her how resourceful Dad was, and how he could do anything, and what a rich life we had. From the bed next to mine, Stella said, "Mom's a dreamer."

In the kitchen, Grandma said, "Rich? This is a rich life?"

My mother charged on. "Money isn't everything, Ma," she said.

"And why you go and let him name that boy Crick? What kind of name is that? Sounds like he was raised in a barn."

My parents had had an agreement. Dad got to name any boys they had, and Mom got to name the girls. Dad told me he'd named Crick after a clear little crick that ran beside the house they'd lived in at the time. Once, when I used the word crick in a paper for school, the teacher crossed it out and wrote creek above it. She said crick wasn't a real word. I didn't tell Dad that. Or Crick either.Mom named her first girl (my sister) Stella Maria. Then I came along, and she must have been saving up for me, because she named me Domenica Santolina Doone. My name means Sunday-Southern-Wood-River. I was born on a Sunday (which makes me blessed, Mom said), and at the time we lived in the South beside woods and a river. My name is pronounced in the Italian way: Doe-MEN-i-kuh. Domenica Santolina Doone. It's a mouthful, so most people call me Dinnie.

In the kitchen, Grandma Fiorelli was steaming on. "You ought to think of yourself," she said. "You ought to think of those children. They could be in a school like the one your sister works in. Your husband needs a real job-"

"He has a real job-"

"Every six months? Basta!" Grandma said. "Why he can't keep a job for more than six months at a time? What does he do, anyway? Why he didn't go to college so he could get a real job? How are you going to get out of this mess?"

"He's looking for the right opportunity," my mother said. "He could do anything-anything at all. He just needs a break-"

Grandma's voice got louder every time she started up again. She was bellowing like a bull by this time. "A break? E ridicolo! And how he is going to get a break if he doesn't even have a college education? Answer me that!"

"Everybody doesn't need a college education," my mother said.

"When we come to this country, your father and I, we know not a word of English, but you kids got a college education-"

Stella threw a pillow at me. "Don't listen, Dinnie," she said. "Put your head under this and go to sleep."

The pillow didn't drown out Grandma Fiorelli, though. She barreled on. "And what about you?" Grandma said to my mother. "There you are, a perfectly well-trained artist, and I bet you don't even have a paintbrush to your name."

"I paint," my mother said.

"Like what? Walls? Falling down, peeling walls? Basta! You ought to talk to your sister-"

The next morning Grandma Fiorelli was gone, and so was Dad. He'd gone looking for a new place to live. He'd heard of an opportunity, he said.

And so we followed him around, from opportunity to opportunity, and as we went, Crick got into more and more trouble. Crick said it wasn't his fault that every place we went, he met up with people who made him do bad things. According to Crick, some boys in Oklahoma made him throw rocks at the school windows, and some boys in Oregon made him slash a tire, and some boys in Texas made him smoke a joint, and some boys in California made him burn down a barn, and some boys in New Mexico made him steal a car.

Every time we moved, Dad told him, "You can start over."

And with each move, Stella got quieter and quieter. Within a week of our reaching a new town, there'd be boys pounding on the door day and night, wanting to see her. All kinds of boys: tough ones, quiet ones, nerdy ones, cool ones.

In California, when she was sixteen, she came home one Sunday night, after having been gone all weekend with one of her girlfriends, supposedly, and said she'd gotten married.

"No you didn't," Dad said.

"Okay, I didn't," she said, and went on up to bed.

She told me she'd married a Marine, and she showed me a marriage certificate. The Marine was going overseas. Stella started eating and eating and eating. She got rounder and rounder and rounder. When we were in that hill town in New Mexico, she woke me up one night and said, "Get Mom, and get her quick."

Stella was having a baby. Dad was on the road, Crick was in jail, and Stella was having a baby.

And that was the last week of my first life.

Bloomability RB/SB. Copyright © by Sharon Creech. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Table of Contents

First Life
The Dot
An Opportunity
The Two Prisoners
The Girl
The Queen
An Italian Tongue
Toes and Teeth
It's So Rude
Nomads and Cuckoos
Val Verzasca
An Announcement
Buon Natale
Trees and Cows
St. Moritz
Phone Call
Hamburger and Peaches
Italian Invasion
Pot Roast and Plans
The Pistol
The Visitor
The Dolomites
Loud Snow
Voci Bianche
Two Pistols
Hats and Bugs
Forking Roads
Shifting Light
Next Life

Reading Group Guide


Bloomability, by Newbery medalist Sharon Creech, tells the coming-of-age tale of Dinnie, a thirteen-year-old girl uprooted from her parents' nomadic lifestyle to spend a year in Switzerland. Dinnie is used to change, since her whole life has been comprised of moving to a new town every time her father excitedly stumbles upon a new opportunity. But when Dinnie's aunt and uncle invite her to stay with them and attend an American international school in Switzerland, she wants to rebel and stay with her family. "I was used to moving, used to packing up and following along like a robot, but I was tired of it. I wanted to stop moving and I wanted to be somewhere and stay somewhere and I wanted my family" (p. 17).

Dinnie arrives in Switzerland homesick, scared, and stubbornly refusing to enjoy herself. Throughout the course of the year, however, Dinnie not only becomes comfortable in her new surroundings, but also sees the appeal of the new experiences, struggles, and opportunities presented to her.

Questions for Discussion

  1. Why does Dinnie refer to her time with her parents as her "first life," and her time in Switzerland as her "second life"? If her "third life" begins at the end of the book, how do you think it would differ from the first two?

  2. Dinnie observes that both Lila and Guthrie have very strong personalities, and worries about whether she is as interesting as they are. Toward the end of the book, she is surprised when Guthrie calls her interesting. Why does he think this? Do you think Dinnie is interesting? Why or why not?

  3. What appeals to Dinnie about struggling? How does she use being "fullof struggles" to help her deal with her new life in Switzerland?

  4. To Dinnie, Switzerland is a strange and unfamiliar place that grows to feel comfortable. What similarities does she discover between Switzerland and her various homes in America? What differences? How do both the similarities and differences help Dinnie appreciate her experiences there?

  5. After Guthrie is rescued from the avalanche, Dinnie has a dream that her bubble is gone (pp. 228–29). What does that signify to Dinnie? How do the preceding events lead up to this revelation?

  6. Explain the contrasting perspectives of Lila and Guthrie, taking into consideration Guthrie's story of the two prisoners. How does Dinnie's personality complement theirs?

  7. Discuss Uncle Max's graduation speech about variety (p. 250). How do variety and acceptance at the international school affect Dinnie? How is it different from her previous experiences (consider Stella's advice on moving to a new place and fitting in, such as "Expect the worst" and "Dress plain the first day")? How does it make Dinnie feel about herself?

  8. Dinnie observes that "for all our differences in nationality, in language, in culture, and in personality, we were all more alike than not" (p. 256). Explain what she means by this. Why is it so important to Dinnie to have a sense of belonging?

  9. What is Dinnie's relationship with her parents like? How does this affect her fears about being in a foreign country?

  10. How do Dinnie's dreams illustrate her concerns and thoughts? Select some examples to discuss.

  11. By the end of the book, Dinnie resolves that she no longer feels like a stranger, even while moving from place to place. Like a snail, she carries her home on her back. What does she discover about the notion of home? How do her experiences in Switzerland lead her to that conclusion (p. 261)?

  12. Why do you think this book is called Bloomability?

About the author

Sharon Creech received the Newbery Medal for Walk Two Moons. After eighteen years of teaching and writing in Europe, Ms. Creech now lives in the United States with her husband.

Customer Reviews

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Bloomability 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 179 reviews.
MissPrint More than 1 year ago
Sharon Creech won the Newbery Medal for "the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children" in 1994 for her novel Walk Two Moons. Bloomability, from 1998, is one of Creech's later novels for children. Thirteen-year-old Domenica Santolina Doone, known to almost everyone as Dinnie, does not have what most people would consider a mundane life, let alone an average one. "In my first life, I lived with my mother, and my older brother and sister, Crick and Stella, and with my father when he wasn't on the road." As Dinnie's father, a Jack-of-all-trades by name and choice, moves across the country in search of new "opportunities," Dinnie and her family follow. "By the time I was twelve, we'd followed my father from Kentucky to Virginia to North Carolina to Tennessee to Ohio to Indiana to Wisconsin to Oklahoma to Oregon to Texas to California to New Mexico. My things fit in one box." There was also a stint in Arkansas so brief that it escaped Dinnie's recollection. As some readers might have guessed, this lifestyle did not always work out for the family. The crux of the novel begins when Dinnie makes this series of observations: "Dad was on the road, Crick was in jail, and Stella was having a baby. And that was the last week of my first life." That's when Dinnie is kidnapped by two complete strangers. At least, that's how it seems to Dinnie. No one else seems to agree. But, just because she met her Aunt Sandy and Uncle Max twice before, it doesn't make them like her real family. At least, not right away. Dinnie's aunt and uncle take her off to Switzerland for an opportunity of her own as a student the school where Max will be headmaster and Sandy a teacher. At first, Dinnie doesn't see how any of that is an opportunity. But then she gets to the school and starts to meet some of the other students. Coming from all over the world, and from many different cultures, everyone is different. For the first time in Dinnie's life, she isn't the only stranger. Miles away from her family and in a foreign country, Dinnie might finally have a chance to find herself. Along the way, she also finds friends (and family) that she never would have encountered anywhere else. Creech does a great job here of showing different cultures. The book is a nice example of a truly international book. It also might teach readers a thing or two about the importance of tolerance. In fact, I'm sure it could be used in a variety of classes as a teaching tool even if I can't get into all of the ideas in this review. It's also written in a very authentic, humorous voice. The title of this book, Bloomability, refers to possibilities--a recurring theme in the novel. Dinnie isn't happy about a lot of the things she has to do, but as she soon learns, every change is an opportunity and a new possibility. On a personal level, this book is actually a really relevant review for the week, and I'm sure most other readers would also find it has some valuable insight to offer during times of change.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Sharon Creech has done it again. I could not put this book down. It had me hanging on until the end, and i enjoyed every minute. Thank you for such a great book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
They should make a movie based ob this book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is REALLY good. It was cool and really fun to read. I loved it!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Bloomability is funny yet meaningful.Very enjoyable!
mmuncy on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Bloomability by Sharon Creech- Dinnie is sent to live with her aunt and uncle in Switzerland. Her uncle, Max, is the headmaster of a boarding school where Dinnie becomes a new student. She makes new friends and gets to see new things. One day two of her friends are trapped in an avalanche, but Dinnie was watching and able to point out where they were. Both friends are saved. At the end of the story Dinnie is given the choice of going back to America to stay or for just the summer. We are left guessing which choice she will make.I always like books that leave you guessing about what really happens after the book ends. Most of my students however do not like stories with no definite ending.One extension activity after reading this in class would be to have the students write their own continuation of what happens after the book ends.
chinquapin on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
12 year old Domenica Santolina Doone, otherwise known as Dinnie, has lived in 12 different states in her 12 years as her father keeps chasing that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Then her uncle gets a job as the headmaster of the American School in Switzerland and he and his wife take Dinnie along to live with them and attend this international boarding school. Dinnie's world opens up into a rich field of friends from a smorgasbord of international backgrounds, skiing and hiking in breathtakingly beautiful mountains, great teachers, fieldtrips around Europe and learning Italian. There are some very amusing events, mostly stemming from Dinnie's attempts at learning Italian, and the story has an undeniable appeal to it. The American School seems almost too wonderful to be real...for two weeks the whole school body moves to a hotel in St. Moritz and hold abbreviated classes in the morning and evening so everyone can ski during the mid-day. However, the plot is somewhat thin and there is not a whole lot going on other than making friends and going to classes, but Creech manages to make even these mundane things interesting. Major themes are the ties of friendship and change.
bettybealis on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
¿Bloomability¿Domenica Santolina Doone, Dinnie, was moving again. For as long as she could remember Daddy would pack his bag and go to where the ¿opportunities¿ were. Dinnie had a box with all her memories in it. She never put a new address in the box until they had left that place. The year Dinnie turned fourteen; her parents told her she had a great ¿opportunity.¿ Her uncle was the headmaster at a Swiss finishing school and she was going to live with them and go to school there. Dinnie was not so sure she liked this new opportunity. She loved her family and wanted to stay with them. During her year in Switzerland, Dinnie has to grow up a lot. She does not hear from her family very often. She ends up making great friends in school and learns a lot about life and growing up. I liked this book because it addresses the problem that people have with changes in their lives. One great activity would be a quick write about what memories you would put in a shoebox to keep. Another one would be to have the students make their own shoeboxes to keep their memories from the school year in. I rated this book four star, because it is a great read and reminds me about the hesitation with which you met new ¿opportunities.¿
LilNea on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Bloomability, by Sharon Creech, is a story about a young girl named Dinnie Doone, who leaves her life following her father around the United States looking for "new job opportunities" to go live at a boarding school in Switzerland with her aunt and uncle. At first, Dinnie isn't sure what to make of her new setting, with students from around the world and the gorgeous landscape that is nothing like back home. But after Dinnie learns that everyone there is new, just like her, she realizes that she can take a hold of all the "bloomabilities" around her and develop into a person she never dreamed of being. Bloomability is a very-well written story that has great character development and an enticing plot. This book would be best for adolescents and anyone who enjoys a great read. Out of many amazing novels by Sharon Creech, Bloomability is surely one of her finest.
margaretlong on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Bloomability is a book written by Sharon Creech about a 13 year old girl named Dinnie Doone who lives with her family in Abiquiu New Mexico, when her aunt and uncle take her all the way Switzerland where she will attend her uncle¿s boarding school. The term Bloomability comes from her new Japanese friend keisuke, as his version of possibilities. This book is a great read for a school assignment, a quick read, a group read or even book clubs. Even though it is a fiction book it has a little geography and a hint of romance. Sharon does a great job creating Dinnie¿s character, even though we have nothing in common I could easily relate to her pain and loneliness. There are many other intricate characters and I guarantee you will find one you can connect with. I was a little disappointed with the ending, I personally like when books have a solid ending but many other people I know like cliff hangers where they can choose the end so that it satisfies them. Other than that I thoroughly enjoyed this book and recommend it to all age groups, even adults will enjoy this exciting story of Dinnie¿s adventures.
mcollier on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book is hilarious! I really liked it. I love how she got "kidnapped" Overall, I really nice story
BreNord on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Dinnie Doone has grown up moving. In fact, by the time she was 13 she had moved over 14 times! But when Dinnie moves from a small town in New Mexico to scenic Switzerland, her whole world changes. When she makes new friends and is faced to make decisions she has never had before, Dinnie looks at her self and finds who she really is. Sharon Creech does a great job targeting her audience. Because Dinnie is 13 years old, I would recommend this book to a middle school aged student in the need for a book club novel. The book was easy to get through but had a lot of meaning and thought within it. Praise to Sharon Creech for a great piece to read and an amazing book to discuss.
delaney.h4 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Summary: Dinnie has been "kidnapped"! By who you ask? Why none other then her Aunt and Uncle. That's right they have "kidnapped" her and taken her to her Uncle's boarding school in Switzerland. That's so unfair right! Right?.....right?Review: Oh, no the book list actually picked a good book.
4sarad on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I really enjoy this book and it makes me extremely jealous of kids who had the opportunity to go to a school like this where a good majority of the students come from countries all over the world and speak all different languages. The descriptions of Switzerland make you want to hop right on a plane and never come back. The story is a good one and you can feel the main character grow and change for the better. It also has some scary moments and a lot of laughs. It is also possible to pick up some Italian, Spanish, and Japanese words.
LeeMoppet on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I've loved this book since I was quite young, and every time I read it I can look at it in a different way. There's just something magical about the whole story, and I like it far better that "Walk Two Moons".
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This has to be honestly one of my favorite books ever. It had an amazing story and the friendships made between the characters were amazingly strong. I have always had a great longing for travel and adventure, and i love books that make that stronger and make me want to do what the characters are doing. Im soooo happy i read this book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Is it fantasy or realistic fiction? Reply to Psychic plz!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was amaxing sharon u did a fabulous job on it!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I see what you did with the whole "letter from Tillie with turtle and girl uncovering trail" thing. Great idea. Dinnie and Zinny would be great together. I loved how all the kids from different places became friends. I personally think Lila was being a smige stew-pod with disliking Belen because she was Spanish. But that's cause she's Lila-the-pistol. Great job!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Not only did this book make me cry. Twice. It made me smile and laugh so hard my sister gave me weird looks. I think every person should read this book... VIVA CREECH
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
this is what i, BerryBaby think of this book; AWESOME.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wonderful and very iinspireing
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I had to read this book for school. I have to say, its a great book. I recomend you read it. :)