The main character refers to itself as an angel, although it is unsure of it is a boy or a girl. The angel lives in an abandoned home in the Italian area of Switzerland. As the story progresses we realize the angel has resided here for many, many years. An American man arrives with his daughter, Zola, having purchased the house and intending to turn it into an international school. The angel is uneasy about this new development–especially when it becomes evident that Zola can see the angel.
Surrounded by the residents of the small town, the angel is shocked upon discovering Zola has found a group of abandoned children hungry and alone within the village about whose existence the angel was unaware.
The way in which the angel and Zola work to address the problem of the children and their needs is heartwarming and funny. They are able to involve the other residents in unexpected ways, bringing the story to a satisfying conclusion.
The angel narrates the story in English, however it is English as a second language. This particular voice has the dual ability to play in humorous ways with the English language and to point out absurd and sometimes unpleasant truths about human behavior through the eyes of an objective observer.
My favorite stories are those that touch my heart, open my eyes to something or someone new, and make me laugh. This story does all of those things in force. It is a great independent read for ages 8-12. It is also an excellent read-aloud choice for the same age group–keeping in mind that each group of children is different and read-aloud choices need to be geared to the dynamics and personality of your specific group, as well as their age.
I highly recommend this story, as well as Sharon Creech’s entire body of work.