cover image Chasing Redbird

Chasing Redbird

Sharon Creech. HarperCollins, $17.99 (272pp) ISBN 978-0-06-026987-6

Returning to Bybanks, Ky., the setting of her Newbery-winning Walk Two Moons, Creech weaves an affecting tale of love and loss. Zinnia Taylor, the third of seven children, is shaken by her aunt's recent death; although the doctor attributed it to diabetes, the 13-year-old feels sure that a prank she pulled was the real cause. When Zinny discovers a trail at the edge of her parents' farm, she learns of its history as a 20-mile path once trodden by Indians and trappers. She spends weeks clearing weeds and digging up markers; during the course of her solitary endeavors, which are periodically interrupted by Jake Boone's attempts at wooing, Zinny not only learns of her ancestors' hardships but slowly resolves her internal conflicts. Creech's language is as fresh as the natural wonders Zinny encounters in the woods: an older sister has a temper ""hotter than a boiled owl""; zinnias, which Zinny plants to commemorate her role in clearing the historic path, ""are like bright sentries marching along the trail."" This sturdy but sensitive tale is Creech's best yet. Ages 8-12. (Mar.)