I decided Sharon Creech was one of my favorite authors after reading Walk Two Moons when I was in…4th grade(?), and that decision was reaffirmed after reading Ruby Holler. After reading more of her titles and now, re-reading Ruby Holler in my twenties, I can firmly place my finger on what made these stories so attractive to me when I first read them.
First of all, my Scholastic edition of Ruby Holler has one of my favorite hardback covers out of all hardcover books I’ve seen or possessed. A log cabin tucked behind an archway of trees sits at the end of a drive which leads past wildflowers, a well, and into the woods. The trunk of a tree holds the spine position on the cover, and on the back is a nighttime sky in which a large moon looms over the countryside, a moving train, and a brown owl. This cover holds so much importance to the story it binds, and when I was younger I would sit with this book in my hands just imagining and dreaming up stories of my own that took place in the landscape. This is how I think all children’s books should be designed: with as much storytelling power on the outside as the pages on the inside (Cover art ©2002 by Marc Burckhardt; Cover design by Alicia Mikles).
Now that I’ve snapped out of another cover-inspired daydream, Ruby Holler is a story about twins Florida and Dallas, who live in a terrible foster home. They have bounced around to a few “permanent homes,” but are returned either because of the new parents’ impatience and bad judgement, or, in an instance, because they fear for their safety. One day, they are picked up by Tiller and Sairy, an older couple who live in a place called Ruby Holler. The couple’s own children have grown up and moved away, and they are hoping Florida and Dallas will help them plan for two upcoming trips (no worries, this isn’t as sketchy as it sounds). The couple is sweet and caring, and surprise Dallas and [especially] Florida with their inclination for patience and understanding. Sadly the four of them encounter trouble, but I’m happy to say that the cliffhanger ending has quite positive implications.
I think what made me enjoy Sharon Creech’s writing, and the reason why I still enjoy it, is how she writes about children-adult relationships. These relationships are typically within families, and softly express how complicated adulthood is, even if it seems simple or sturdy when you’re looking on as a child. The stories aren’t necessarily happy-go-lucky, but they are also not unbelievably terrible; the combination of plausibility and an overall calm tone make the events easier to absorb (like the horrors Florida and Dallas experience), as well as imaginatively enticing.
I’m glad I included this book in my Reading Challenge, because it’s been fun revisiting an author I love and a book I enjoyed in an earlier part of my life, when adulthood hadn’t set in and life hadn’t yet become so complicated and messy. If you share a fondness for Sharon Creech, tell me your favorite title in the comments below; or, if you haven’t already, pick up Walk Two Moons and Ruby Holler (or even Bloomability, Granny Torrelli Makes Soup and Heartbeat) for quick reads that are full of life.