Review of One Time

One Time
by Sharon Creech
Intermediate   Cotler/HarperCollins    272 pp.    g
9/20    978-0-06-257074-1    $16.99
Library ed.  978-0-06-257075-8    $17.89
e-book ed.  978-0-06-257077-2    $9.99

Gina Filomena, eleven, has been told that she has an overactive imagination. Few teachers or classmates have seen this as a gift until the new language arts teacher, Miss Lightstone, asks her students to think about the question “Who are you?” and later adds, “Who could you be?” With these two simple yet enormous questions, Gina begins to study and understand herself. Creech’s (Love That Dog, rev. 11/01; Saving Winslow, rev. 11/18) newest novel is an invitation to the reader, as much as it is to Gina, to see the world through fresh eyes. What is her friend Antonio talking about when he says he saw a porcupine eating red licorice? How is it that a new kid with an openhearted smile can transform an entire classroom? This is a story about the small events of a child’s life — presents arrive from Gina’s grandmother in Italy, neighbors move in and out, relatives visit — but through it all Gina discovers, thanks to Miss Lightstone, that she is a writer. “At night I dreamed that I was writing my life. I would be writing rapidly — long, detailed passages about places and people…When I woke, the feeling of that mystery, of that ability to create my life, lingered.” Creech’s prose is inviting, and the introspective reader will easily relate to Gina’s observations of her world; but the book also holds appeal for a wider audience of readers who long for adults to challenge and stretch them as Miss Lightstone challenges her students.

From the September/October 2020 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Maeve Visser Knoth

Maeve Visser Knoth is a librarian at Phillips Brooks School, Menlo Park, ­California. She has chaired the Notable Children’s Books Committee and taught at Notre Dame de Namur University and Lesley University.

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