cover image One Time

One Time

Sharon Creech. HarperCollins/Cotler, $16.99 (272p) ISBN 978-0-06-257074-1

Eleven-year-old Gina Filomena lives in Ohio with her mother and father. In the past, her colorful clothes and imaginative stories about Angel Lucia—both sent by her Italian nonna—have garnered unwanted attention at school, including bullying cries of “Gina gypsy.” But her new teacher, Miss Lightstone, also wears colorful clothes and encourages her students to write with abandon. When Gina’s friendly new neighbor, Antonio, joins her class, his “wide, gleaming, welcoming smile” and unusual observations (“There was a porcupine here—right here—eating licorice”) enthrall her classmates. With the help of her eclectic teacher and perceptive Antonio, with whom she finds herself mentally connected, Gina begins to see the world differently, questioning who she is, who she might become, and what possibilities life holds for her and for her classmates. In short, vignette-like chapters, Newbery Medalist Creech (Walk Two Moons) expertly develops a relatable, amusingly foibled cast—including Gina’s inquisitive schoolmates and demanding Italian relatives—and classroom verve conveyed via a scriptlike immediacy. Threaded with themes of friendship, acceptance, and self-discovery, Gina’s story slowly unfolds, reminding readers that it’s okay to imagine life’s possibilities while still accepting its undeniable realities. Ages 8–12. Agent: Amy Berkower, Writers House. (Sept.)