cover image Replay


Sharon Creech, . . HarperCollins/Cotler, $15.99 (180pp) ISBN 978-0-06-054020-3

Written with the kind of warmth, understanding and economical prose that has characterized Creech's previous novels (Walk Two Moons ; The Wanderer ), this story features a middle child growing up in a large, boisterous Italian family. Using a surgeon's precision, the author cuts beneath Leo's surface layer to reveal his concerns about the future and his desire to be someone special. At home, the boy sometimes feels lost in a mob of people (when he was little, he once lamented "I'm just a little sardine, squashed in a tin"), but he does have a wonderful fantasy life, in which he always manages to rise above the crowd and emerge a hero. The 12-year-old lands a part in a school play and is finally able to live out his dream of taking the spotlight (even if he is playing the minor role of an "old crone"—how he warms up to the role makes for some comical scenes). Leo also discovers a journal written by his father at age 13. The journal, structured as an autobiography, reveals family secrets and provides Leo with insight into his father, who has become quiet and cautious since suffering a heart attack. Some readers may be disappointed not to see more development of the relationship between Leo and his father. But the author artfully weaves together dreams, memories and minor crises that occur at home and onstage, to create a tapestry of images and voices that celebrate both the imagination and family. Ages 8-12. (Sept.)