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Wendy Mass is a prolific author for both young adult and middle grade novels. She won the ALA Schneider Family Award for her first young readers' novel, A Mango-Shaped Space, about a girl who has synesthesia. Her second novel, Leap Day, stars a girl who was born on February 29. Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life follows a young boy on a journey to solve one of life's greatest mysteries, and Heaven Looks a Lot Like the Mall is her first novel-in-verse. She lives in New Jersey with her husband, twin daughter and son, and a cat. Her Web site is www.wendymass.com.
Confirming her mastery of the middle-grade novel, Mass (Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life) combines astronomy and storytelling for a well-balanced look at friendships and the role they play in shaping identity. Three narrators take turns: Ally, who lives with her parents and younger brother at the Moon Shadow Campground and loves every tree and every rock on it, but most especially the stars above it; glamour-loving Bree, who announces to readers that she must have been "switched at birth" to explain her presence among physicist parents and a geeky younger sister; and Jack, who is helping his science teacher lead a solar eclipse tour to the Moon Shadow to make up his failing grade. The trio's paths converge because Ally's parents have sold the Moon Shadow to Bree's, and everyone meets up at the campgrounds during a major eclipse. The voices reflect the distinct personalities, and while the outcome is never in doubt--each character discovers unexpected powers of adaptability and new talents--Mass keeps the developments believable. Information about solar eclipses and astronomy is carefully woven into the plot to build drama and will almost certainly intrigue readers. Ages 8-12. (Oct.) Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.
Gr 5-8-The opportunity to see a total solar eclipse draws thousands of people to the Moon Shadow campground. Wendy Mass's novel (Little, Brown, 2008) skillfully spins a tale combining an intriguing combination of fiction and astronomy, presented from the point of view of three distinct voices in alternating chapters. Home-schooled Ally is fascinated with astronomy, but her parents' abrupt announcement that they plan to sell the campground, the only life she has ever known, leaves her uncertain of her future to "secure immortality" by discovering a comet. Beautiful Bree, co-leader of her school's A clique, is mortified when her parents announce that they purchased Moon Shadow so they can continue their scientific research. But when her "inner geek" rears its head, she begins to wonder if there is more to life than making sure her lip gloss matches her purse. Jack's weight problem and low self-esteem keep him from being popular, and his preference for drawing graphic comics and reading science fiction cause him to fail science class. Consequently, he is sentenced to summer school, but snaps at the chance to join a tour bus of eclipse chasers, led by his science teacher, in exchange for documenting his experience. The three teens converge on the campground, each discovering something new about themselves and their place in the world. Ally, Bree, and Jack are well-drawn characters and are brought to life by the exceptional narration of Jessica Almasy, Ali Ahn, and Mark Turetsky. This compelling combination of scientific information and fiction is almost as rare as a solar eclipse.-Cheryl Preisendorfer, Twinsburg City Schools, OH Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.