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Creech, Sharon

South Euclid

Born: July 29, 1945

Ohio connection: Birth

After obtaining her B.A. at Hiram College (1967), the 22-year-old South Euclid native married H.R. Leuthy and completed her graduate work at George Mason University in 1977. During this time, she worked at the Federal Theatre Project Archives in Fairfax, Va. (1975-1977), and followed that with a position at the Congressional Quarterly as an editorial assistant (1977-1979). After her divorce from Leuthy in 1977, Creech secured a position as literature teacher at the Thorpe, Surrey, branch of the American Grade School in Switzerland (TASIS). A day/boarding school for children of American expatriates, the Surrey branch boasted a student body made up of children from more than thirty countries. Creech and her two children, Rob and Karin, settled in Thorpe in 1979, where she began a fifteen-year teaching career. In 1982, she married Lyle D. Rigg, an assistant headmaster at the school with Ohio roots, and bought a centuries-old cottage. Two of her first three books, The Recital (1990) and Nickel Malley (1991), were intended for older adults and bore her married name, Sharon Rigg. In Absolutely Normal Chaos (1990), Mary Lou Finney, a 13-year-old living in Easton, Ohio, keeps a diary over the course of a chaotic summer vacation. In its pages she records her budding romance with a middle school sweetheart; the ensuing consequences of a visit by her West Virginian cousin, Carl Ray; and the culture shock she encounters when she accompanies him back to his house. In Walk Two Moons (1994), 13-year-old Salamanca Tree Hiddle embarks on a long car trip with her grandparents from Euclid, Ohio, to Lewiston Hill, Idaho, in order to reunite with her mother, who had deserted the family some years before. While en route, her grandmother suffers a stroke, and her grandfather, who had taught her to drive, allows Salamanca to finish the last leg of the journey alone. Further tragedy strikes when her mother is killed in a bus accident. Arriving in Lewiston, Salamanca has to try to make peace with her mother. In Pleasing the Ghost (1996), 9-year-old Dennis conjures up the spirits in an effort to be reunited with his dead father. Though the spirit of his father does not appear to him, those of other deceased members of his family do, including his late Uncle Arvie. His uncle, who suffered a stroke affecting his speech before his death, gives Dennis several unclear clues as to the hiding place of a horde of money and valuables, which he wants Dennis to find and give to his aunt. A Newbery Medal winner intended for readers in the 4th through 6th grades, Chasing Redbird (1997) features Zinnia (Zinny) Taylor, a quiet, overlooked 13-year-old with six siblings, who lives with her large, extended family in Bybanks, Kentucky. Discovering a mysterious trail under a deluge of brambles and weeds, Zinny devotes herself to the backbreaking labor of clearing it, and follows it off her family’s property into the formidable woods beyond. With the death of her aunt, her efforts reach a fever pitch, the necessity of uncomfortably camping out miles from home in the woods a small sacrifice when compared to her driving ambition to discover and claim something as her very own. In her 2001 book, Ruby Holler, a loving, older couple invites a pair of orphaned foster children into their rural Ruby Holler home, and accompanies them on an exciting adventure. Maintaining her American citizenship, Sharon Creech divides her time between her home in Pennington, New Jersey (where her husband is a headmaster) and her cottage in Surrey, England.

Awards:
Billee Murray Denny Poetry Award, Lincoln College, IL, 1988, for "Cleansing"; Best Books, School Library Journal, 1994, Notable Children's Books, American Library Association (ALA), Children's Book Award (England), U.K. Reading Association Award, Newbery Medal, ALA, all 1995, W. H. Smith Award, 1996, Young Readers Award, and Virginia State Reading Association, Heartland Award, Sequoia Award, and Literaturhaus Award, Austria, all 1997, all for Walk Two Moons; Whitbread Award shortlist, 1997, for Chasing Redbird; Christopher Award, 2000, and Newbery Honor Book, 2001, for The Wanderer; Christopher Award, 2002, for Love that Dog; Carnegie Medal, 2003, and Rebecca Caudill Young Readers' Book Award, second place, 2005, both for Ruby Holler; Carnegie Medal nomination, 2005, for Heartbeat.

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