Chasing Redbird

Chasing Redbird


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“Intriguing, delightful, and touching.” School Library Journal (starred review)

“Creech’s best yet.” Publishers Weekly (starred review)

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.

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 a story of love, loss, and understanding, 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.

An ALA Best Book for Young Adults

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780064406963
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 04/24/2012
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 272
Sales rank: 121,586
Product dimensions: 5.12(w) x 7.62(h) x 0.54(d)
Age Range: 8 - 12 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

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.

Reading Group Guide


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.

Customer Reviews

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Chasing Redbird 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 152 reviews.
Iwant2fly More than 1 year ago
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!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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!:(
jamie-blake More than 1 year ago
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.
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.
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.
Overall, I give this book four stars. It is a book that will definitely make you think long after you have finished the book!
Gabster21 More than 1 year ago
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!!!!!!!! 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book has a special place in my heart.
Guest More than 1 year ago
this book is the best book i have read in a while!!it is a book for the whole family!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Sharron Creech writes the best books ever this book is on of the best!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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!
Guest More than 1 year ago
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
PatsyAdams on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Grade: 4-7Genre: Realistic FictionThemes: Setting long term goals, young romance, loss, acceptance, guiltI totally enjoyed this book. Zinnia Taylor lives in a large family and sometimes feels lost in the bunch. She discovers an old overgrown trail and decides to find out where it goes. This involves camping on the trail for a few weeks during the summer. Her aunt and uncle live next door and they had a daughter who was Zinnia's age and died as a small child. Her aunt and uncle were never the same afterward. During her time on the trail, Zinnia begins to stop blaming herself for her cousin and her aunts deaths. She discovers a cabin on the trail that answers many of Zinnia's questions. There is also this little romance throughout the book about a boy named Jake who admires Zinnia and keeps bringing her gifts that he steals. She doesn't believe that anyone would like her and both jake and Zinnia find themselves that summer. I don't think that I would use this book as a read aloud but would have it in my library and recommend it to my students. There are great discussions you can have with this book. For example: What is the proper way to show affection for someone? Do yo have family members that are just a little bit different? Do you ever just want to be alone? There would be great literature circle questions.
CatheOlson on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The style of this book reminded me of Walk Two Moons--there is also a lot in this book about the relationship of a young teen and her grandparents. In this story, Zinny's grandmother dies and Zinny thinks it's her fault and that her grandfather blames her. She becomes obsessed with clearing an old, overgrown trail to have something that will make her stand out from all of her brothers and sisters--and she discovers more about her grandparents in the process.
wyostitcher on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Students get to know Zinnia at the beginning of the book and about the special relationship she had with her Aunt and Uncle. She finds out that she too was chasing something when she left to clear the trail. She needed to make herself into someone different from the rest of the family members. She had always felt alone and left out. Unfortunately her parents did not realize what was going on because she never complained about others taking things from her or having to live with hand me down items. She began chasing a dream of finding her own place and when she returns she feels she has been replaced and the relationship are different. Zinnia finds a love in Jake and he feels the same towards her. Students who read the book will find they need to develop a voice to be heard and get the attention. As Zinnia finds the old cabin with all the missing items from her aunt and cousin, she realizes they never will be forgotten. She shows she cares for her uncle when she takes him to the cabin. He comes to terms with his chase for his redbird like Zinnia does when she finishes the trail. I did not realize this book was for younger children but would be a good book for students who are struggling readers when they are trying to find their place in the world. There is quite a bit of skipping around at the beginning of the book but as you read you understand the search for self.
musiclvr-pbjsquirt24 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I personally loved this book. I started reading it, having nothing better to do, thinking I wouldn't enjoy it, but it had me hooked until the end! There is a great story line, with amusing characters, realistic life tragedies, and a happy "togetherness" quality throughout the book. With a just a touch of romance, and some adventure/suspense, this is a 'must-read' for anyone ages 9&up.
caitsm on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Zinny uncovers a trail on her family's property, but also uncovers her family's secrets on the way.
t1bclasslibrary on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Zinny starts to clear a path she discovers behind her house. Eventually she discovers the purpose of this path and vows to clear it by the end of the summer. She's working through her own issues as she goes, blaming herself for the death of her cousin and aunt, wondering about how her family feels about her among so many children, and wondering how to help her uncle who sees her aunt everywhere. Her journey leads her to camp alone on a long trail, make a new friend, and find answers.
snapplechick on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Really good, unexpected plot. Interesting middle and surprising end makes for a great story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Amazing book i LOVE it
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Thus book id just simply amazing. I love it so much. To everyine else that loves thus book, im titally with ya! It has cliffhangers everywhere and is jlbeautifully cwritten. I think sharon creech should make a secing one! Thus us my favorite boik and it has for a whule. If you didnt enjiy rhis book that is ok because we all have differebt minds. But if yiu ask me ill say i live this book probably too much! And thats saying somthing because i normally arnt a big reader! Thx to sharon and all of her helpers to make this magical book possible. Thx for reading!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is amazing