Twelve-year-old Leo loves to daydream. In his mind he is famous, big, or strong, but in real life his family calls him Sardine or Fog Boy. Leo feels that his family tends to forget him in the midst of their own boisterous dynamics, relationships, and projects. Leo is a dreamer, but the rest of his family doesn’t seem to appreciate this, and Leo doubts that they ever did or will.
But one day Leo goes up into the attic to escape the noise and confusion of his family. In a dusty box tucked away amidst the junk Leo finds a small blue book entitled “The Autobiography of Giorgio, Age of Thirteen.” Beneath the journal Leo finds a pair of scuffed up tap-dancing shoes. Giorgio is the name of Leo’s father, but Leo can’t believe that his father was ever happy enough to tap dance, and his father’s old journal is full of grand hopes and dreams that Leo can’t believe that his father ever aspired to.
Leo begins to explore his father’s life through reading the old blue journal. On those rare occasions when Leo finds that he has the house to himself he puts on the tap-dancing shoes and relives his father’s own early days.
Leo also takes a part in the school play. Not only does this give him a chance to achieve one of his dreams of performing, but it also pleases his father, who once wanted to be an actor.
Leo is determined to perform well in the play, even though he has the less than desirable part of an old crone. In addition, Leo is determined to uncover the secrets of his own father’s past: why he is so sad now, and why he abandoned all the plans and hopes that he wrote about in his blue journal so many years ago.
“Replay,” by Sharon Creech has a few distinguishing features that make it unique. First and foremost, the story includes the full text of the play “Rumpopo’s Porch,” by Bill Beeber. This is the play that is performed by Leo in the main story of “Replay.” “Rumpopo’s Porch” makes up about one-tenth of the content of “Replay.”
“Replay” also has a series of three interesting chapters that seem to be ‘replays.’ Each has the same basic structure: one of the children has an upcoming event, and the family is late. When the finally arrive, the star of the day plays their part and ends up getting injured. One of the Leo’s brother’s breaks his leg at a football game. Leo’s sister sprains her knee. Even his youngest brother manages to get hurt at a choir event.
The interesting part, when this really begins to play a major role, is on the night of Leo’s play. The chapter starts withe same format and structure as the three chapters in which Leo’s siblings get hurt at their own performances. Right from the start of the chapter the reader is just sure that Leo is going to ruin the play or get hurt. Whether he does or not, I’ll not say. You just have to read the book.
All things considered I would say that “Replay,” by Sharon Creech is well written book. Leo’s antics and adventures are both humorous and heartfelt, and it is this balanced mixture that makes a good book.
I would recommend “Replay” for the junior fiction audience.
Inkweaver Book Rating: