Kid Reporters

A Chat with Sharon Creech

The Newbery-Medal winning author talks to TFK about her latest book, The Great Unexpected

December 10, 2012
COURTESY COLLINS FAMILY

TFK Kid Reporter Faye Collins meets up with Sharon Creech during her book tour

In Sharon Creech’s latest book, The Great Unexpected, best friends Naomi and Lizzie have their world turned upside down when a boy named Finn drops out of a tree and into their lives. The story takes place in two settings: the small town of Blackbird Tree and an estate across the ocean in Ireland. When Creech first started writing the book, she didn’t know how the two stories would connect. “I let the story tell itself to me,” she told TFK.

During her book tour, Creech met up with TFK Kid Reporter Faye Collins. They talked about The Great Unexpected as well as Creech’s Newbery-Medal winning book, Walk Two Moons.

TFK:

How does it feel to release a new book?

CREECH:

It’s exciting. It looks so different. The first time you ever see it in this form, it’s like, “Whoa! It’s a real book! It’s going to be in stores!”

TFK:

How did you come up with the plot of The Great Unexpected?

CREECH:

I started out with this image of the young girl, Naomi, in my mind and knew she was in a small town, Blackbird Tree. I saw her just walking through the meadow, and there was this tree and something fell out of it. That’s all I really knew when I started. When I get that kind of image in my mind, I write really fast to see what the story’s going to be. There’s this story in Blackbird Tree and this story in Ireland, and I knew they were going to connect; I just didn’t know how. I let the story tell itself to me. At the end of each chapter, my mind is kind of working on what will happen next.

TFK:

Who is your favorite character in the book?

CREECH:

I think it’s the narrator, Naomi. But, I’d have to say that Finn boy [is] pretty cool. I also like Lizzie even though she would drive me crazy as my friend. She’s so positive and up and buoyant, and she tells the truth, which is good, even though sometimes you don’t want to know the truth!

TFK:

What do you think readers enjoy most about your books?

CREECH:

I think they most enjoy the mystery and the humor. From what I’ve heard from kids—I get lots and lots of letters—that’s what they enjoy most. They also like individual characters like, “Oh, I really like Naomi,” or “I really love Mrs. Kavanagh.”

TFK:

Kid Reporter
Faye Collins

What was the greatest part about winning the Newberry Medal for Walk Two Moons?

CREECH:

It was so fun and so scary! But the greatest part was the excitement that my whole family had and how friends and people I didn’t even know, complete strangers, were excited. That made me feel like I had given a gift to each of them, something that they treasure, and there’s nothing really better than that.

TFK:

What do you think made Walk Two Moons so unique?

CREECH:

That is a really good question, and I have no idea! I think what made it special was that it was very different from the other books that had come out that year. I think it was the first really long book for young readers. It was also a complicated book in that it had three storylines and people thought, “Well you can’t do that. It’s hard for kids.” But I think the Newbery Committee found its serious message wrapped in humor very enticing to children. And the characters sort of made it stand out that year.

TFK:

What is your favorite book?

CREECH:

I would say Shiloh (by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor) because it’s popular with kids, and it’s got a serious message with some humor in it. There’s just something so perfect about that book. It’s not very long. It’s very sweet but not drippy sweet!

TFK:

How often do you get back to Surrey, England, and do you miss it?

CREECH:

It has turned out to be about every five years. I miss it a lot because it was a big chunk of our lives. You spend 18 years in a place, and a chunk of it just goes with you, and you feel like you left part of yourself there. What I really miss about it is the little villages. We’d take lovely walks everyday. It was definitely part of my heart.

TFK:

What are your plans for the future?

CREECH:

First, finish packing and move to Maine to be closer to my grandkids and spend more time with them. I’d also like to maybe continue to write a book a year or every other year. My next book, which is called The Boy on the Porch, will come out next year, about this time. It’s a smaller book. It’s about a young couple who lives out in the country, and then one morning they find a boy on their porch, asleep on a chair. They don’t know where he’s come from or why he’s there, and he doesn’t speak, and that’s where the title comes from.


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