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Sharon Creech | Biography

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Early Life

The young adult novels of American author Sharon Creech, such as Walk Two Moons, draw heavily on Creech's own life experience. Creech was born on July 29, 1945, in South Euclid, Ohio—one of the places where protagonist Salamanca ("Sal") Tree Hiddle lives in Walk Two Moons. Creech's four siblings and large extended family were a central part of her childhood, as were the annual road trips the family took during the summer—including one to Idaho, the place where Sal journeys in Walk Two Moons. As a child, Creech had many interests and hobbies, including writing, but she never imagined that she would grow up to be a writer. Like Sal in Walk Two Moons, Creech also has a deep connection to nature, and as a child, she loved visiting the Kentucky farm where her cousins lived.

Education and Early Publications

Creech's interest in the art of storytelling deepened when she attended Ohio's Hiram College. After graduating, Creech taught English in a high school for 15 years. Creech also earned a master's degree from George Mason University in Virginia. Creech lived in England with her husband, schoolmaster Lyle Rigg, for 18 years, beginning in 1979. While living in England, Creech wrote and published two novels for adults, The Recital (1990) and Nickel Malley (1991). After these two novels, Creech began writing fiction for young people and has since written over 20 books.

Creech's first young adult novel, Absolutely Normal Chaos, was published in 1990. It is the story of a young girl, Mary Lou Finney, who is given an assignment by her teacher, Mr. Birkway, to keep a summer journal. These characters and this situation reappear in Creech's second young adult novel, 1994's Walk Two Moons.

Controversy Surrounding Walk Two Moons

Creech wrote and published Walk Two Moons while she was living in England, and it was her first book to be published in America. The book won the 1995 Newbery Medal, which is an award that signifies the book was the year's "most distinguished contribution to American literature for children." The fact that Walk Two Moons received the Newbery both surprised Creech and created a great deal of controversy. Many critics objected to the book's portrayal of Native American culture as stereotypical and misinformed. They resented that Creech, who is not Native American, wrote a book about a part-Native protagonist. They felt that as an outsider, Creech had no right to write about the experience of being a Native American person. In her Newbery acceptance speech, Creech described a family legend that claimed one Native American ancestor, as well as her own "romantic" view of Native American culture. The book won a number of other awards, including being recognized as an ALA Notable Children's Book. Despite the controversy, Walk Two Moons has stood the test of time and continues to be read and taught in classrooms to new generations of young people.

Later Publications

Creech has written and published many books since Walk Two Moons. Her books tend to focus on young people wrestling with life's big questions who undertake journeys of self-discovery or healing; many of the books have won awards. The Wanderer (2000), which tells the story of a teenage girl traveling across the ocean in a sailboat with her family, was named as a 2001 Newbery Honor book. Her young adult novel Ruby Holler (2002), about two orphaned siblings who travel to Florida, won the 2003 Carnegie Medal. When Creech won this award, which is the British equivalent of the Newbery Award, she became the first author to have won both. In addition to fiction for young adults, Creech has written two picture books: A Fine, Fine School (2001) and Fishing In The Air (2003).

In 2001 Creech published Love That Dog, her first verse novel. Creech uses free verse to tell the story of a boy who develops a love of writing poetry with the help of an encouraging teacher. Love That Dog was critically acclaimed and received several awards, including being named as a Carnegie Medal finalist. Her 2012 novel Heartbeat, also written in free verse, tells the story of a girl who loves to run and who begins to understand how life is full of change. In 2016 Creech continued to push the boundaries of children's literature with Moo, a novel written in a mixture of poetry and prose, about a young girl who bonds with a cow when her family moves from the city to the country.
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