The Great Unexpected
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The Great Unexpected

3.74 of 5 stars 3.74  ·  rating details  ·  2,445 ratings  ·  408 reviews
From Newbery Medal winner and bestselling author Sharon Creech comes a grand, sweeping yarn that is a celebration of the great and unexpected gifts of love, friendship, and forgiveness. With a starred review from Kirkus Reviews calling it an "enchanting tale to treasure," The Great Unexpected captures the heart and the imagination.

Humorous and heartfelt, this is a story of...more
Hardcover, 226 pages
Published September 4th 2012 by HarperCollins (first published January 1st 2012)
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One word for my reaction to this book: Meh. I was not bowled over by the tale, I think because I felt Creech tried to include far too many elements - fairies, Irish humor, strange degrees of separation, belonging, coming of age. The alternating back and forth between the characters and setting in Ireland, and those in America was kind of confusing too me, and I think it would be so for young readers, especially as the Irish chapters were an approximationg of brogue sometimes. When Creech finally...more
Naomi and Lizzie, both orphans, have lived in Blackbird tree their whole lives with the kindly families that have taken them in. They are merely minding their own business one day when a boy falls out of a tree one day and knocks Naomi to the ground. At first they are sure he is dead, but then he gets up and introduces himself as Finn. They've never seen him before, and strangers don't come to Blackbird Tree often. Shortly after Finn's arrival another stranger comes to town and seems to be lurki...more
Barb Middleton
I work with a Lizzie-type person. She doesn't take a breath, rattling through conversations like an auctioneer. Sometimes I want to make the timeout sign with my hands, other times I marvel at her yapping tongue. Lizzie Scatterding is Naomi Deane's best friend who has a good heart, is melodramatic, and can be annoyingly talkative. Both girls are orphans living in the town of Blackbird Tree and their relationship and dialogue is one of the great strengths of this novel. Dizzy Lizzy repeats everyt...more
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 Scatt...more
Some of Sharon Creech's books are among my favorites, especially Walk Two Moons, but this one won't be.

The thing that most puzzles me about why this book didn't grab me is that one of the difficulties I had with the book was that I couldn't keep Lizzie and Naomi straight in my mind. This should NOT have been a problem, since Lizzie was the talker and Naomi was the dreamer. I think part of the problem is that Lizzie, the talker, wasn't the narrator of the book. So you end up with Naomi, the dream...more
Debra Mccracken
I find I agree with other readers--I wanted to like it, and I found parts of it very charming and funny. But the story did not hold together, and I had a hard time imagining how a middle-school reader could ever figure it out. The boy Finn's role was left unfinished; it was hard to figure out in what time period it was supposed to be written; and Lizzie was just a little too odd for my tastes. The concept of connectedness was a great premise, but it played out a little too amorphously.
I did like...more
Charlyn  Trussell
(Reviewed ARC) Remember the game Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon: it is alive and well in this book, but Kevin Bacon is never mentioned. No, it's the idea of connectedness, here, although you don't realize that until later. At first, it's just the story of two orphans, Naomi and Lizzie, their lives and how their lives are changed after the boy Finn falls out of tree. The girls and their guardians live in the town of Blackbird Tree; across the sea in Ireland, another story is being played out at Rook...more
Linda Lipko
This is yet another insightful, wonderful book by Sharon Creech.
Mentioned as a potential Newbery award winner for 2013, I hope Creech is successful in garnering her third Newbery award.

I loved Walk Two Moons, a Newbery medal winner in 1995. She won a Newbery honor in 2001 for The Wanderer.

The setting of The Great Unexpected is a teeny, tiny, hamlet of Blackbird Tree. Naomi and Lizzie are good friends, both are orphans. Many in the town of Blackbird face difficult lives. In fact, one new teacher...more
I spent the majority of this book simultaneously confused and delighted. I was spellbound by the rich world, the spunky orphan girl at the center of the story, her best friend, the rest of the colorful cast of characters, and the fabulously wicked and seemingly unrelated snippets of life with Pilpenny and Sybil. Slowly, as if groping in the dark and feeling the outlines of objects, the story's plot came together for me, but always with a firm sense that I was missing something. Fortunately, the...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Alyson (Kid Lit Frenzy)
I want more books like this one. A book that is beautifully written, has quirky characters, humor, mystery/adventure, makes you care what happens, and even has sad parts. Sharon Creech has done it again. If the Newbery committee overlooks this book I might cry. Can't wait to share this book with kids this fall.

When I was in the sixth grade my teacher recommended that I read Walk Two Moons and it changed my life. It was one of those books that tore through my soul and combusted the world into a brand new place. As a 12-year old, I think it finally helped me to start seeing "the bigger picture." I loved everything about that book and read it several more times through junior high and high school.

Naturally, I decided that I had to read everything else by Sharon Creech and I fell in love with her writing...more
Ms. Yingling
The town of Blackbird Tree has more than its fair share of orphans and old people. Naomi lives with Nula and Joe, her mother having passed away shortly after her birth, and her father dying of an infection after a dog attack that also disfigured Naomi's arm. Her friend Lizzie lives with a couple she hopes will adopt her. The two makes friends with Finn, an unusual boy who also has a mysterious past. While the children in Blackbird Tree are hanging out, helping the strange and elderly (Crazy Cora...more
Darn! Frustration! Damnation!

I really liked this book (or to put it more truthfully, I liked the IDEA of this book) and I wanted it to flow SO much better than it actually did. It is a sometimes charming and very funny tale about two young ladies who are orphans and live in what appears to be some sort of timeless village called Blackbird Tree in the U.S. An Irish boy turns up one day and starts turning their lives and thoughts around. Through an insane series of events, told in alternating chap...more
Wandering Librarians
Naomi and Lizzie, two orphan girls living in Blackbird Tree, are minding their own business when a boy falls out of a tree at their feet. Once Finn shows up, things become very strange. The mysterious Dingle Dangle man comes to town for an unknown purpose, and things begin changing, fast, and Naomi isn't sure if it's for the better. She begins to see the strange connections between people, even people far across the sea in Ireland.

I love Sharon Creech. I grew up reading Walk Two Moons and Chasin...more
This review is from my blog, Studies in Storytelling. http://studiesinstorytelling.blogspot...

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 chatterboxi...more
The Great Unexpected is one of those books that defies a plot summary. It's centered around two orphan girls, Naomi Deane and Lizzie Scatterding, who live in the small town of Blackbird Tree, but the story incorporates a vast number of other characters, and reaches far past the town limits. There are plots, and sub-plots, and it's the way that they intertwine that forms the heart of the book.

Indeed, it would probably be 500 pages, rather than 225, if it explained all of the details of each subpl...more
An intriguing book--I enjoyed it very much and read it quickly. I don't think I quite grasped everything, but it seems well worth a reread. I loved the hints at adolescent angst (not written in an ANGSTY way, but a real way), and the characters, and the setting--the Irish setting was perhaps better defined than the American setting, but that might have been done purposefully. I love the way the story slips in and out of the real world.

Recommended for anyone who enjoys a little Irish folklore mix...more
Creech gives us wonderful quirky, imaginative characters in this middle-reader fairy tale that addresses gender inequity and the reality of good fairy tales and bad ones. How shall we know the difference and attend to rectifying the wrong of the bad fairy tales? How shall we live with ordinary magic - love, acceptance, courage, wonder, and imagination - in our lives where unexpected events are to be expected? When to welcome such events and when are we to be wary of them? Creech's usual attentio...more
Trouble and dog bites and foster kids and Ireland and locked trunks and crows and a best friend who talkstalkstalks…oh, and a boy falling out of a tree, seemingly from another world. If you like mystery and intrigue and trying to connect the dots before the characters figure everything out, give this magical tale a try.

Reviewed for the Emmet O'Neal Library Children's Department

Grown-up portion of review:
There is way too much going on in this book. Creech may be tying everyone together with a gos...more
Vicki Sherbert
This story was filled with great, unexpected things. Friendship, family, forgiveness, and restoration all blend together throughout situations that seem impossible. As two young friends experience both hard and good times, Naomi reflects, "I realized that was one difference between me and Lizzie. I didn't want to know everything that was already known; I wanted to leave room for possibilities." What a great thought to pass along to my middle school students: Leave room for possibilities.
Gina (My Precious)
This was a solid MG read. The only reason I didn't give it FIVE stars was because it was quite confusing in the manor it was written. I enjoyed the messages and sweetness of the story though. Its definitely one which will warm your heart. The characters were rich and well developed. The writing style beautiful. Full Review to Come... (Closer to Review DATE)

The My Precious Blog
Heather Johnson
Everything comes together through a surreal telling of the lives within Ireland and the small town of Blackbird Tree. It's like the threads of fate that bind seemingly bizarre coincidences into what the characters know as reality.

This was a very strange read for me. The books tries to accomplish many things in so little pages. At first, I enjoyed the mysterious plot of falling Finn and the puzzle pieces scattered in the pages. The story gave teasing hints within the text, which were intriguing...more
This book was plain charming, especially the audio version, whose narrator breathed such life into these quirky characters. Lizzie Scatterding was exceptionally enhanced by the singsong innocent voice the narrator have her, every one of her melodic "lardy dars" made her character more endearing. I liked how the two stories added brief storyline glimpses into the other, unfolding the plot at the very end. Naomi Deane is an equal match to her friend Lizzie, and the two complement each other well -...more
Will have to wait to see what "my kids" think of this. It may be too hard to stick with it... which would be unfortunate, because they would miss the Great Unexpected at the end.
Ashley Lewis
The Great Unexpected by Sharon Creech was a great book. This amazing book starts out with Naomi sitting under a tree in her home town, Blackbird Tree, when a boy named Finn fell out of it. He landed on her, so hard that he passed out, but not Naomi. Lizzy, Naomi's friend, comes along and thought Finn was dead. After a while he woke up, talked about living up on a scary hill that nobody goes on. It is filled with dogs and mean people. Later on, Naomi, Lizzy, and Naomi's adoptive mother, Nula, are...more
Brett Axel
Every page was a delight. Sharon Creech's best. It took several weeks, a few chapters a night to read the entire thing to my 6 yr old. We both loved every minute.
Tami de Mel
I really enjoyed this book because of the writing. Sharon Creech made this story enjoyable, even though the plot is confusing and unexplained. I find the two girls really cute and quirky. The characters were loveable. Naomi's narrative is written in quite a childlike manner, which I find appealing. The story itself is alright.
The main reason I read this book was the cover. It is probably one of my favourite book covers to date. I know it has nothing to do with the quality of the book, but it is...more
"Did a delicate cobweb link us all, silky lines trailing through the air?"

The Great Unexpected, P. 220

When I had the honor of hearing Sharon Creech talk about this book in person at an event on the tour promoting its release, she said it was the surprisingly pervasive fear of the unknown among people she talked to that first gave her the idea to write The Great Unexpected. When asked what they thought of the unexpected, people tended to recoil in instinctive discomfort, to associate the word...more
I’m a huge Sharon Creech fan, but “The Great Unexpected” was un-expectantly not anywhere near some of her other masterpieces. I thought the cover picture and the plot were curiously intriguing, but for me it had some confusion.

I had no problem following the snatches of what was happening in Ireland, even though all that was a mystery ‘til the end. But I have to agree with other reviewers who stated that the seemingly important character of Finn was not completely clear, even at the end. I think...more
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I was born in South Euclid, Ohio, a suburb of Cleveland, and grew up there with my noisy and rowdy family: my parents (Ann and Arvel), my sister (Sandy), and my three brothers (Dennis, Doug and Tom).
For a fictional view of what it was like growing up in my family, see Absolutely Normal Chaos. (In that book, the brothers even have the same names as my own brothers.) Our house was not only full of...more
More about Sharon Creech...
Walk Two Moons Love That Dog Ruby Holler Chasing Redbird The Wanderer

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“A driver had been sent to meet us. He was gray-haired, short, and nimble and introduced himself. "I am Patrick and so is every fourth man in Ireland, and the ones in between are named Sean or Mick or Finn, and I'll be driving you.” 4 likes
“Mrs. Mudkin closed her eyes. "We should pray."
"I ain't praying," Crazy Cora said.
Mrs. Mudkin said, "Lord, please bless---"
"I ain't praying."
"--this land and the people who--"
"I ain't praying."
"--have toiled on this earth--"
"Stop that praying."
"I can pray if I want to."
"Then be quiet about it.”
More quotes…