The Wanderer

by Sharon Creech (2000)

An Intermediate and Middle School selection.

“The sea, the sea, the sea. It rolled and rolled and called to me. Come in, it said, come in.”

Prepare to set sail with thirteen-year-old Sophie as she voyages across the Atlantic Ocean from America to England to visit her grandfather, Bompie. She is accompanied by a motley crew of uncles and cousins, all of whom are men who expect her to stick to tasks traditionally assigned to women. Even when the crew are tasked with teaching each other something – juggling, drawing, and so forth –  Sophie can’t help feeling that connecting with The Wanderer’s crew is impossible.

That connection, however, is gently nurtured through story-telling and Sophie’s favorite stories are tales passed down from Bompie. Only… Sophie has never met Bompie, as she was adopted into the family three years previous. So how on earth could she have heard these stories? 

“Whoo! We are moving along! No detours! Spooky fog out there, though, makes everything look like a horror movie.” 

Cody, Sophie’s cousin, also feels like an outsider aboard the ship. His flippant attitude directly contrasts with his desire to prove his strength to his father and the other crew members. It doesn’t help that Cody has a habit of calling out nonsensical nautical terms that irritate more than aid, but his heart of gold shines when, time and again, he comes to Sophie’s rescue. Over the course of this voyage, this unforgettable pair will learn about themselves and the people they love as they work together to survive their ocean.

Sharon Creech has created a stunning dueling narration via the journal entries from Sophie and Cody. Students that embark on this journey with Sophie and her family will be easily enthralled by the adventure that the sea brings and the mystery of Sophie’s origins, and the musings of the two narrators will raise countless topics for shipboard – and classroom – discussion.

The Wanderer is a compelling choice for a school-wide reading event, because it dexterously blends hands-on nautical action with subtle and realistic emotional tempests, and – best of all – it is delivered via Sharon Creech’s peerless prose.

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