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Book Review: Walk Two Moons
By Katie B., Grade 7, Brother Rice Junior High, St. John's, NL

Walk Two Moons
By: Sharon Creech
Harper Trophy

Thirteen-year-old Salamanca Tree Hiddle leads a perfectly normal life in Bybanks, Ky. -- a small town nestled on the edge of the Ohio River. "Sal" enjoys living in this ideal rural community, with plenty of space and a good view of the river. It is the type of town where you can walk down the street and recognize everyone who passes by.

Sal lives on a farm with her grandparents, mother and father. But when Sal's mother, Chanhassen , unexpectedly announces that she's leaving her family and going to Lewiston, Idaho, to "find herself," Sal's normal world suddenly begins to unravel.

Sal and her father are crushed by Chanhassen's absence. Margaret Cadaver, an acquaintance of Sal's mother, convinces Mr. Hiddle to find a change of scenery. Reluctantly, Sal's father packs up and drags his unwilling and upset daughter to their new home in a box-like suburb near Cleveland, Ohio:

"...My father plucked me up like a weed and took me and all our belongings (no, that is not true - he did not bring the chestnut tree, the willow, the maple, the hayloft, or the swimming hole, which all belonged to me) and we drove three hundred miles straight north and stopped in front of a house in Euclid…"

In Euclid, Sal meets unforgettable characters like Phoebe Winterbottom, a "respectable" 13-year-old worrywart, and Mrs. Partridge, Margaret Cadaver's blind mother. As time passes, Sal gets used to living in Euclid, although she still misses her grandparents and Bybanks.

Sal and Phoebe become fast friends, and Sal begins spending most of her time at Phoebe's house, which ironically is located next door to Margaret Cadaver's. One day, when Phoebe finds a mysterious note on her doorstep, its meaning initially confuses her: Don't judge a man until you've walked two moons in his moccasins. Phoebe wonders what this cryptic message has to do with her life, until Sal helps her discover the surprising, intertwined relationship between the message and herself.

Over a year later, Sal's mom still hasn't returned. Because her dad still does things like weep over family albums, Sal senses that he is not ready to go searching for answers. She convinces her grandparents to travel to Idaho to find Chanhassen. Sal believes that if she gets to Lewiston by her mother's birthday, she will be able to bring her back and everything will return to the way that it used to be.

During the long car trip to Lewiston, many stories begin to unfold. Sal tells her grandparents about Phoebe and the mysterious messages -- and the potential lunatic whom she believes is sending them. Also on their journey, readers learn more about the characters' lives. These stories are a key element to the reader's understanding of the story.

Walk Two Moons is a thought-provoking tale that uses humor and a well-written plot to enlighten its readers. Its insightful themes are expressed in a very creative way, as the messages that Phoebe discovers on her doorstep: In the course of a lifetime, what does it matter? And, You can't keep the birds of sadness from flying over your head, but you can keep them from nesting in your hair.

I enjoyed Walk Two Moons so much that I also read Sharon Creech's other novels, including Chasing Redbird, Absolutely Normal Chaos, Bloomability and The Wanderer. Although these books are not a series, the characters and settings are linked. For example, Absolutely Normal Chaos tells the story of Mary Lou Finney, one of Sal's friends from Euclid, and Chasing Redbird is about Zinny Taylor, Sal's best friend from Bybanks.

Walk Two Moons is a must-read for kids ages 11 and up. Adults would also enjoy this book. It won a well-deserved Newbery Medal in 1995.


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