BookDragon Books for the Diverse Reader

Replay by Sharon Creech

ReplayHis name is Leonardo, he’ll answer to Leo, but he’s most often called “sardine” by his nearest and dearest because several years ago, “Leo got squashed in a corner and cried …[and] said, ‘I’m just a little sardine, squashed in a tin.'” Caught between older sister Contento, and younger brothers Pietro and Nunzio, Leo is always rather sardined in between the members of his boisterous, extended Italian American family. As he is also a non-stop dreamer, said large family is not above calling him “fog boy,” often having to drag him out of his imaginary world filled with starring Broadway roles and Nobel prizes.

One rainy day as he seeks quiet refuge in the attic, Leo happens upon a treasure box which contains The Autobiography of Giorgio, Age of Thirteen. He discovers a happy, tap-dancing, singing version of his father, so unlike the older, impatient parent he now calls Papa. Buried in Papa’s pages, Leo uncovers “everyone’s favorite” Rosaria, whose name no one even dares mention … which makes Leo that much more determined to solve the mystery of missing Aunt Rosaria.

Meanwhile at school, Leo is cast as the old crone in Rumpopo’s Porch, a play written by his drama teacher. Leo is initially crestfallen to realize “he is a nobody, an unknown …” But the small part proves pivotal, showing the old crone’s eventual change of heart towards the storyteller Rumpopo whom she initially mistrusts and misunderstands.

The more deeply Leo immerses himself (an actor must be prepared for anything!) into Rumpopo’s Porch, the more Leo finds himself engaged in his own real life – his search for missing Aunt Rosaria, his baby brother’s frightening accident, and his deepening friendship with classmate Ruby who has a missing sibling of her own. Most importantly of all, the play about the old crone’s changing understanding of Rumpopo gets replay-ed as Leo begins to find new insight and empathy for his once tap-dancing father.

Leo’s world’s a stage, skillfully produced by author Sharon Creech to include playbills, snatches of dialogue, stage directions, and script rewrites (yes, replays!). And in case anyone wants to bring Rumpopo’s Porch to a theater near you, she’s added the script in full at title’s end. As the villagers ask Rumpopo for yet another story… “–something amazing– ” … so, too, will Creech’s readers be asking for her next memorable tale!

Readers: Middle Grade

Published: 2005


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