“Brimful of grace and cheer; moving, funny, and sweet—and begging to be read aloud.”
—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
In a tiny village high in the Swiss Alps, life for one angel has been the same, well, for as long as she (or he?) can remember. Until Zola arrives, a determined American girl who wears three skirts all at once. For neighbors who have been longtime enemies, children who have been lost, and villagers who have been sleepily living their lives: hold on. Zola and the angel are about to collide. Figs start flying, dogs start arfing, and the whole village begins to WAKE UP. Zola is a girl with a mission. And our angel has been without one—till now.
When my granddaughter was two years old, she told her first story: “Once upon a time in Spain there was an angel, and the angel was me. The end.” That fascinated me! I wanted to know more! I thought about that line often, hoping it would inspire the rest of the story. Then, for the school year 2007–2008, my husband accepted a one-year position at the boarding school in Switzerland where we had lived and worked when we were first married. As soon as we returned to Switzerland and I saw the old tower on campus, I knew that the angel would live there. I knew that the whole village was part of the story.
In Switzerland, while I was immersed in re-learning Italian (the language of southern Switzerland), I found myself talking strangely and comically, mixing English and Italian and mangling grammar in both languages. Not only could I not speak Italian correctly, but I could no longer speak English correctly! The two languages were so tangled in my brain. An example: I’d need the word that meant attractive, but I couldn’t find that exact word. Instead, I’d think of attractiful or attracting. The only way this story was going to get written was if I let the angel speak the way my brain was working that year!
I am a little hesitant to admit it, but many scenes in this book make me laugh and laugh. Here are three of my favorites:
From the chapter “My Territory,” when Zola asks the angel if the angel has wings
From the chapter “Lizards,” when Rosetta confesses to eating a lizard’s tail
From the chapter “Pigeons,” when the angel reacts to Zola’s pigeon story