Sharon Creech is the mistress of writing unexpected little masterpieces that change the way you view children’s fiction forever. Love that Dog, about a boy’s struggle to connect with poetry is one such book. The Unfinished Angel is another.
The Unfinished Angel is a short novel about an angel who lives in a tower in a remote Swiss village, watching over all the inhabitants of the tower and helping them in their hour of need. The story is told through the eyes and with the words of the angel.
One day a new family come to the village to start a school. The daughter of the family, Zola, can see the angel, and she draws him further into the complicated lives of the villagers and enlists his help securing the future of a group of orphan children who have taken sanctuary in a nearby barn.
The angel is very unsure of himself. He does not know why he is really there. He does not understand very well what it means to be an angel, and the more contact he has with humans, the less he is able to comprehend the ways of people, and angels.
The book is written in a very peculiar, made up language, as if the angel has acquired only a rudimentary knowledge of it, and has to create words and phrases to describe what he sees and feels. It adds great richness and humour to a story which might otherwise seem rather cloyingly sentimental.
Because of the way it is written I would only recommend that it is given to children who are extremely confident in their reading and who are fluent readers, if they are expected to read it alone. I would also suggest that it is a more girl than boy friendly book as there is not a lot of action, and it is quite sentimental in places.
It would make an excellent read aloud book for a class of children between the ages of 8 and 12, and would provide fantastic material for lessons on nonsense words, wow words and how we use and create words.