From Sharon Creech, Newbery Medal winner and New York Times bestselling author, comes a powerful coming-of-age story of a girl who discovers the endless possibilities her future may hold, with help from a brilliant teacher and a boy with a generous smile. Perfect for fans of Love That Dog, this tale is about the transformative power of imagination and the journey to becoming who you are meant to be.
Gina Filomena has been told she has an overactive imagination. With her bright clothing and artistic spirit, she's always felt different from the other kids in her class. That is, until she meets her new neighbor, a mysterious boy named Antonio with a wide, welcoming smile. Add in a creative new teacher, Miss Lightstone, and a world of possibilities opens up for Gina, Antonio, and their classmates. With the help of Antonio and Miss Lightstone, will Gina find the answers to the questions Who am I? and Who do I want to be?
A standout teacher and mysterious new student open the minds and notebooks of Gina Filomena and her fellow classmates. Eleven-year-old Gina has always felt different from the other students. She has a bright imagination and a vibrant wardrobe to match. In new neighbor Antonio she finds a friend whose wild mind seems connected with hers. At school, their English teacher, Miss Lightstone, poses questions that ask students to imagine both who they are and who they could be. Through her writing prompts, Gina, her classmates, and readers simultaneously discover that with most people there is far more than meets the eye. Newbery-winning Creech skillfully catches Gina at the point in life when a child’s small world opens up into a much wider adult one. As Gina navigates this transition, the line between real and imagined is blurred. What is Antonio really seeing when he spins his tales? How much havoc is her Italian Nonna’s fabled Angel Lucia actually responsible for? Gina’s eventual revelations about how the lives of her family, neighbors, and classmates unfold flesh some of this out, but the story never feels wholly complete. Fans of Creech’s hallmark beautiful writing won’t be disappointed even if the story reads like an idea not fully realized. Main characters default to White; some names cue diversity in secondary characters. A shallow but engaging dip into a story and characters worthy of a deeper dive. (sources) (Fiction. 9-12)
Copyright 2020 Kirkus Reviews, LLC Used with permission.
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.)Copyright 2020 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.