Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews



Sharon Creech
For ages 9 to 12
HarperCollins, 2007   ISBN: 0060540214

Leo sometimes feels very overwhelmed by his large and loud family. He feels like a “little sardine, squashed in a tin.” He feels left out and on the fringes of everything, weighed down by the successes of his siblings, and by his two awful nicknames, “Sardine” and “fog boy.”

The only place where Leo feels happy is in his very active fantasy life. In his daydreams, Leo is the hero, the only child, the loved and adored favorite, the person who saves the day, the scientist who wines a Nobel Prize.

Much to his surprise, Leo gets a part in a school play. He does not have high hopes for the part however, because he is going to play an Old Crone. His family tease him about his role, and Leo feels more isolated then ever.

One day, while he is having a little blessed time to himself, Leo discovers a pair of tap shoes and a book that belonged to his father many years ago. His father was only thirteen when he wrote the book, not much older than Leo is now, and it is fascinating to discover that the Papa he knows today is nothing like the boy he used to be. Papa used to tap dance, and to sing. He dreamed of becoming an actor. What happened to that Papa? Did his Papa, like Rumpopo, the main character in the school play, go through something that changed him? Did Papa give up on his dreams?

In this delightful and very different book, Sharon Creech shifts from the main narrative, to Leo’s daydreams, and back. There are layers of stories in the tale, and readers will come to appreciate that there are times when fantasy and reality really do converge. Written both in an ordinary text format and in a play script format, this is a story that is warm, sometimes funny, and often poignant.