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About the Author

Sharon Creech has written twenty-one books for young people and is published in over twenty languages. Her books have received awards in both the U.S. and abroad, including the Newbery Medal for Walk Two Moons, the Newbery Honor for The Wanderer, and Great Britain's Carnegie Medal for Ruby Holler. Before beginning her writing career, Sharon Creech taught English for fifteen years in England and Switzerland. She and her husband now live in Maine, "lured there by our grandchildren," Creech says. www.sharoncreech.com

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The play's the thing in this uneven audio adaptation of Creech's latest novel. Though he has a grand imagination and big dreams, young Leo often feels invisible in his large Italian family. None of his accomplishments seems to measure up to his siblings' efforts and he is the only one excited about his winning a role in the school production of drama teacher Mr. Beeber's play. Along with learning his lines, Leo spends much of his time rewinding and replaying scenes from his life, of course, dramatically fashioned to his liking. But fantasy and reality dovetail nicely at the end as Leo learns more about his family and his role in it. The elements of the play-within-the-novel device and the inclusion of Leo's frequent daydreams make the story's transition to audio a bit rough. At the recording's outset, readers hear a lengthy listing of Leo's extended family members as well as a recitation of the cast list for the play. These components may prove helpful in print, but are overwhelming and somewhat confusing on audio. Throughout, Burns reads with an often halting rhythm, rarely allowing readers to catch the beat of the tale, or of some of the more poignant or humorous bits in the writing. His deep voice frequently sounds like an old-fashioned radio announcer, which sometimes detracts from the youthful underpinnings here. Unfortunately, a full-cast reading of the bizarre school play at the end is an exercise in patience. Ages 8-12. (Oct.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

Gr 6-8-Meet Leonardo. His family calls him "sardine," as he often feels smashed between Contento, his moody older sister, and his two younger brothers, Pietro and Nunzio. His life is filled with possibilities; he's a dreamer (which gains him the additional nickname of "fog boy"). But two events converge in unexpected ways, leading to new understanding, growth, and insight. Leo finds a journal written by his father at age 13 and is chosen for a part in a play written by the drama teacher entitled "Rumpopo's Porch." To his dismay, he is given the role of the Old Crone and the journal presents a person whom Leo doesn't know. Gradually, however, the Old Crone comes to appreciate Rumpopo just as Leo begins to see glimmers of the 13-year-old boy who matured into his now-frazzled father. Life, like plays and replays, has a cyclical nature. A rift in Leo's large, noisy, and completely realistic family begins to heal after a near disaster when Nunzio is injured, just as a hole created by loss can heal. Leo's fantasies intertwine with actual events, adding humor and insight. Characters are brilliantly delineated by their actions, reports of Leo's observations, and short dialogues presented in both conversations and in screenplay form. As Leo matures, nuggets of wisdom emerge from the simple text in this beautifully crafted novel. The script of "Rumpopo's Porch" is included to further clarify parallels. For in the end, "all the world's a stage and all the men and women merely players."-Maria B. Salvadore, formerly at Washington DC Public Library Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

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