Tuesday Tales: The Unfinished Angel by Sharon Creech
April 6, 2010 in Book Club Possibility, Books With Social Studies Content, Creech Sharon, Elementary Educators, Making Personal Connections, Middle Grade Novel, Reading Skills, Research Ideas, six traits of writing Tags: 6 +1 traits of writing, middle grade fantasy books, Newbery Award winner, Sharon Creech, The Unfinished Angel
*Middle-grade, contemporary fantasy
*Angel and elementary-school aged girl as main characters
*Rating: I fell in love with The Unfinished Angel by Sharon Creech. Listening to the audio book in the car made drives enjoyable and fun! Sometimes, I was laughing out loud at the angel!
Short, short summary: One angel (neither a he or a she) lives in the ancient stone tower of the Casa Rosa, in a tiny village high in the Swiss Alps. Life has been the same as long as the angel can remember. The angel says: “Peoples are strange! The things they are doing and saying–sometimes they make no sense. Did their brains fall out of their heads?” The angel’s life is going along just fine, although she doesn’t really know her purpose and is often confused, until Zola moves in. Zola is a young girl who wears three skirts all at once and can see and talk to the angel. Zola is often telling the angel she needs to do something about the “hungry childrens” and neighbors who have been long time enemies. As the book cover states: “Zola is a girl with a mission. And our angel has been without one–till now. This hilarious and endearing novel by Newbery Medal winner Sharon Creech reminds us that magic is found in the most ordinary acts of kindness.” And I totally agree with this book jacket copy writer!
So, what do I do with this book?
1. The Unfinished Angel is a perfect book for studying voice, one of the 6 +1 traits of writing. This book has an unusual, but delightful and captivating, voice. Once you have read a section out loud to students, ask them to give you examples of how the angel’s voice is unique. What are some of her speech patterns? What are some of the ways she makes words plural that don’t need to be: peoples and childrens? How does the angel’s personality come out in the narration? The answers to these questions will help students understand what VOICE is and how to write with a unique voice.
2. Where are the Swiss Alps? What is Casa Rosa? What are some of the different nationalities and languages people are speaking in this book? Throughout this book, questions such as these will arise when children are reading. You can ask students to do some research on the Internet or in the library to answer these questions and deepen their comprehension of the story. Children can share what they’ve learned about this culture with each other.
3. The village as a whole is a character in this book (just like in some books the setting can be a character). Many times, we study how characters change throughout a book and why. In The Unfinished Angel, students can discuss how the angel and the villagers as a whole change throughout the story and why. What makes them change? How do they change? Is it for the better? Students can answer questions like these in reading response journals and then discuss them in small groups or as a class.
I highly recommend this book! It would also be a great book club book choice for parent-child book clubs.