It started out as an ordinary summer. But the minute thirteen-year-old Zinny covered the old, overgrown trail that ran through the woods behind her family's house, she realized that things were about to change. Right from the start, Zinny knew that uncovering the trail would be more than just a summer project. It was her chance to finally make people notice her, and to have a place she could call her very own. But more than that, Zinny knew that the trail somehow held the key to all kinds of questions. And that — the only way to understand her family, her Aunt Jessie's death, and herself, was to find out where it went. (goodreads summary)
As the days grow shorter in August, signaling the end of summer break is near, I choose a book to read to my kids every week until the first day of school begins. I'm amazed that even though my kids are now 15 and 11, they still look forward to our end of summer tradition asking me if I'm going to read to them tonight. We grab our pillows and blankets, along with popcorn and cozy in during the crisp, cool nights. This past week I chose to read Chasing Redbird by Sharon Creech. She is such a talented writer and I cannot think of any of her books that we have not enjoyed. I love finding a book that pulls you in and keeps your interest right up to the end. Chasing Redbird definitely hooked us and will be added among our list of summertime favorite reads.
This is a coming of age story about Zinny Taylor who lives in Bybanks, Kentucky. She is trying to process the guilt felt that she is responsible for the death of her cousin who died when they were four from catching whooping cough. Most recently, her beloved Aunt Jessie passes away and the family tries to cope with her loss. Zinny also carries the burden of her death as well. Her Uncle Nate seems to be going crazy and chasing his "Redbird", a name he had for Aunt Jessie, around the family farm and wooded area. When Zinny finds an overgrown abandoned trail that leads from her farm to a town named Chocton several miles away, she is determined to clear it from end-to-end and claiming it as her own. She camps out for 10 days at a time along the trail while clearing it, alone with her thoughts and trying to find answers to the many questions that linger in her mind. There are several characters in the story that add humor including Zinny and we had a good laugh at quite a few happenings along the way. She is also confused about a boy named Jake Boone who gives her presents to show his affection towards her. She encounters wilderness animals and further on down the trail finds a mysterious cabin that help give her the the much needed answers to what she has been seeking. The story is about love, family, death and grief, determination and finding out where you belong in all of these.
We all really liked this book and it did make for a wonderful read-aloud. It gave us opportunity to talk about many different parts and we found new words/phrases. I also threw out the question "would you want to do something like this if you found an unknown trail?" My kids came back with the question to me "would you let us do something like this?" I think this is a "just right book" for ages 10 and up.
Title: Chasing Redbird
Author: Sharon Creech
Pub. Date: March 1997, HarperCollins
Hardcover, 261 pgs.