Sharon Creech explores the hopes and longings of an introspective middle child from a boisterous Italian clan in this humorous, character-driven novel. Leo's family calls him "Sardine" because the quiet twelve year old often finds himself sandwiched between his more outgoing siblings. One rainy day in the attic, he discovers his father's teenage journal. In it, he reads that his careworn parent used to dream of being a dancer, a writer, a famous athlete, just like Leo! He also discovers a photo of his father's family that includes an unfamiliar girl in the background. Could it be the mysterious Aunt Rosaria no one speaks of? As he tries to untangle this family mystery, he is also preparing for his school play--a tale of an old man whose life is revived by weaving his childhood memories into stories for his neighbors. How can Leo convince his father that, like the old man in the play, he needs to talk about Rosaria to heal the hole she left in his life? Through the parallel dramas of the play and his chaotic home life, Leo begins to understand the importance of stories and our need to share them, whether they are treasured memories or future dreams. Creech includes the full text of the play, Rumpopo's Porch, in the back of the book. Middle grade fans of Project Mulberry by Linda Sue Park or The Liberation of Gabriel King by K.L. Going are sure to enjoy this heartfelt, thoughtful read. --Jennifer Hubert
From School Library Journal
Grade 6-8–Meet Leonardo. His family calls him sardine, as he often feels smashed between Contento, his moody older sister, and his two younger brothers, Pietro and Nunzio. His life is filled with possibilities; he's a dreamer (which gains him the additional nickname of fog boy). But two events converge in unexpected ways, leading to new understanding, growth, and insight. Leo finds a journal written by his father at age 13 and is chosen for a part in a play written by the drama teacher entitled Rumpopo's Porch. To his dismay, he is given the role of the Old Crone and the journal presents a person whom Leo doesn't know. Gradually, however, the Old Crone comes to appreciate Rumpopo just as Leo begins to see glimmers of the 13-year-old boy who matured into his now-frazzled father. Life, like plays and replays, has a cyclical nature. A rift in Leo's large, noisy, and completely realistic family begins to heal after a near disaster when Nunzio is injured, just as a hole created by loss can heal. Leo's fantasies intertwine with actual events, adding humor and insight. Characters are brilliantly delineated by their actions, reports of Leo's observations, and short dialogues presented in both conversations and in screenplay form. As Leo matures, nuggets of wisdom emerge from the simple text in this beautifully crafted novel. The script of Rumpopo's Porch is included to further clarify parallels. For in the end, all the world's a stage and all the men and women merely players.–Maria B. Salvadore, formerly at Washington DC Public Library
See all Editorial Reviews
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.