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The Great Unexpected Hardcover – September 4, 2012

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 7
  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins; First Edition edition (September 4, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061892327
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061892325
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (52 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #704,156 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From 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, NYα(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


"Sprightly and warm...very rewarding" Nicolette Jones, Sunday Times, Children's Book of the Week "I would thoroughly recommend it to anyone." Teen Titles "Gently timeless atmosphere...featherlight touch." The Guardian "An enchanting tale to treasure in which ordinary folk find fairies' gold, run across crooked bridges and mend their broken hearts. " Kirkus Starred Review "Creech's characters are endearing and her writing is a delight in this intriguing book. One of those stories that stays with you long after you have finished reading. " Booksellers' Choice, The Bookseller --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Customer Reviews

This book particularly was very mysterious, and the story unfolded so well.
Anna Harvey
The ending ties every loose end to one another in a way akin to "Great Expectations."
Casey Johnson
Sharon Creech has done it again with this beautifully written and lyrical story.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Donna on September 4, 2012
Format: Hardcover
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.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Kathy on September 13, 2012
Format: Hardcover
This is a delightful book that I read in one sitting. Sharon Creech has done it again with this beautifully written and lyrical story. It is warm, witty, full of memorable and eccentric characters, secrets and coincidences, hidden meaning and life lessons for our children. As you begin to put the pieces of the puzzle of the story together it will remind you that we are all connected by that invisible thread and the actions of one many times affect the lives of others.

Naomi Deane and Lizzie Scatterding are two best friends in the small town of Blackbird Tree. Both are wounded orphans living daily with their fears. Naomi is an old soul, wise beyond her years and terrified of dogs. A vicious attack by one as a child left her maimed and took the life of her father. Lizzie is a scattered chatterbox with the inability to lie and the fear of being homeless. Her one hope is that her foster parents will adopt her and give her a sense of permanency.

The tale begins when a mysterious boy named Finn drops out of a tree, literally at the feet of Naomi. His presence in their lives has an effect on their friendship in the same manner that another boy named Finn in another lifetime came between Naomi's guardian Nula and her sister.

Across the pond in Ireland Mrs. Kavanaugh plots at her estate of Rook Orchard to set a plan in motion that will right past wrongs. She sends the mysterious solicitor Mr. Dinkle to the town of Blackbird Tree and the lives of Naomi and Lizzie are changed forever.

As Naomi muses.... "I had big thoughts to match the big wind. I wondered if we find the people we need when we need them. I wondered if we attract our future by some sort of invisible force, or if we are drawn to it by a similar force.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Studies in Storytelling on September 4, 2012
Format: Hardcover
This review is from my blog, Studies in Storytelling. Please view the complete version here:[...]

I read this book in one sitting, and it was a complete delight. I say this as a 21-year-old college senior unaccustomed to reading Middle Grade. It releases September 4, 2012.

The twelve-year-old, neurotic Naomi has a violent past and a childlike perspective, but a refreshingly sophisticated voice. Her sarcasm and levelheadedness contrast her friend Lizzie Scatterdinghead's innocent, tactful chatterboxing in one of the best foils I've ever witnessed.

When a little Irishman falls out of a tree and knocks her over, he becomes her first crush. Duh dun SHHH.

As the opening chapters suggest - Naomi and Lizzie refer to Finn as "a body" and as "it" - he's mysterious enough to make you wonder, for some time, whether he's paranormal. Meanwhile, a couple of women casually plot "murders" across the ocean, and many dots link Naomi's and Lizzie's little country town of Blackbird Tree, and the dots demand explanation.

What I learned about storytelling: I've got a countdown this time.

3. Interactive character description is incredibly vivid. When the book comes out, I will be copying a passage about Joe from chapter 7.

2. I remember this trick from Walk Two Moons. Creech adds some distance to the love stories woven into these middle grade books, maybe to tone down the romance for younger kids, maybe to add poignance and mystery, maybe both. The most intimate scene in the book is told in two parts, with a brief intermission, in past perfect tense.

1. There's a saying about writing: "Don't leave the gun on the mantle." If a character puts a gun above the fireplace, that gun better fire before the story's over.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Michael Araujo on December 21, 2012
Format: Hardcover
The Great Unexpected by Sharon Creech is one of those books that gets right into things, much like this review, and doesn't diddle daddle. The novel features two girls, Naomi and Lizzie who meet a young man named Finn who fell from a tree and seems to act very peculiar. To be honest, I felt like there wasn't a specific plot and that the novel just went on its way, much like life. Whether it is a good thing or a bad I'm not exactly sure. I've read a couple of novels where a plot was not exactly set out in plain sight. When I say much like life, I mean that the novel doesn't have a grand purpose and seems to gear towards great unexpected situations, pun intended.

Finn seems to be unknowingly accompanied by an older man who is asking too many questions in the small town. Meanwhile, on the other side of the ocean in Ireland, two women seem to talk a bunch of crazy talk that only makes sense towards the end. Aside from the odd vague plot, the book was actually pretty amazing. It kept me guessing what the purpose of the story was and there would be times where characters would say something that would connect to another character saying something previously. I actually spent two hours or so in bed putting little things together and figuring out the big picture.

The characters for a start were superb. Lizzie, the main characters best friend, has a very theatrical aura in her written character. From the way she speaks and by her actions it's as if she's an actress overacting her part and its fantastic! Others, such as Witch Wiggins and Crazy Cora, were also interesting and even though half of the time it was false, the rumors we hear about hem are entertaining.
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More About the Author

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 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 upstate New York.

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