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A Mango-Shaped Space

By Wendy Mass

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Format: Paperback, 221 pages
Published In: USA, 01 October 2005

Product Description:

Gr. 6-10. This contemporary novel does for synesthesia what Terry Hesser's Kissing Doorknobs (1998) does for obsessive-compulsive disorder: the lively personal story demystifies a fascinating condition. For 13-year-old Mia Winchell, the world has always been filled with a wonderful, if sometimes dizzying, sensory onslaught--numbers, letters, words, and sounds all cause her to see a distinct array of colours. She keeps her unusual condition a secret until eighth grade, but then her colour visions make math and Spanish impossibly confusing, and she must go to her parents and a doctor for help. However, this is more than a docu-novel. Mass beautifully integrates information about synesthesia with Mia's coming-of-age story, which includes her break with her best friend and her grief over her grandfather's death. The episode where Mia fabricates an illness to try out acupuncture for the colour visions it produces is marvellously done, showing Mia's eagerness for new experiences even as it describes a synesthete's vision. References to a comprehensive Web site and bibliography about synesthesia are included. Debbie Carton
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Wendy Mass won the ALA Schneider Family Book Award for her first young readers' novel, A Mango-Shaped Space, about a girl with the fascinating condition synesthesia. In Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life, a boy embarks on a life-changing journey. InEvery Soul a Star, three very different kids are brought together by a solar eclipse; and in The Candymakers, four kids enter the contest of a lifetime. The Space Taxi series sends a boy and a talking cat on adventures to distant planets, and the Willow Falls books (beginning with 11 Birthdays) add a dash of magic into a small town. Wendy lives in New Jersey with her family.

Reviews

Gr 5-8-Mia, 13, has always seen colors in sounds, numbers, and letters, a fact she has kept secret since the day she discovered that other people don't have this ability. Then she discovers that she has a rare condition called synesthesia, which means that the visual cortex in her brain is activated when she hears something. From then on, she leads a kind of double life-she eagerly attends research gatherings with other synesthetes and devours information about the condition, but continues to struggle at school, where her inadvertent pairing of particular colors with numbers and words makes math and French almost impossible to figure out. Her gradual abandonment of her frustrating school life in favor of the compelling world of fellow synesthetes and the unique things only they can experience seems quite logical, although readers may feel like shaking some sense into her. Finally, and rather abruptly, her extreme guilt at her beloved cat Mango's illness and death brings her back down to earth and she begins to work on some of the relationships she let crumble. Mia's voice is believable and her description of the vivid world she experiences, filled with slashes, blurs, and streaks of color, is fascinating. Not all of the many characters are necessary to the story, and some of the plot elements go unresolved, but Mia's unique way of experiencing the world is intriguing.-Eva Mitnick, Los Angeles Public Library Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

In an intriguing first novel, Mass introduces a 13-year-old heroine with an unusual perspective. Mia Winchell is a synesthete; her visual and hearing senses are connected so that numbers, letters, words, sounds and even some people's auras appear to her as colors. The letter "a," for instance, is the shade of a "faded sunflower," screeching chalk "makes red jagged lines in the air," and Mia's beloved cat, Mango, is surrounded by an orange cloud. Mia's unique view proves to be both a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, she enjoys having heightened senses ("If I couldn't use my colors, the world would seem so bland-like vanilla ice cream without the gummy bears on top," she says). On the other hand, sometimes it's hard for her being reminded that she is different, like when her brother, Zack, calls her "the Missing Link." Although the story line, at times, seems cluttered with underdeveloped subplots about Mia's friendships, potential romances and conflicts at school, the novel's premise is interesting enough to keep pages turning. The author successfully brings abstract ideas down to earth. Her well-defined characterizations, natural-sounding dialogue, and concrete imagery allow readers to feel Mia's emotions and see through her eyes a kaleidoscopic world, which is at once confusing and beautiful. Ages 10-13. (Apr.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

"I love it! Such an interesting, touching story about an issue I knew nothing about. And I want to adopt Zack and keep him forever."--Karen Cushman, author of the Newbery Medal winner The Midwife's Apprentice "From the moment I read a story by Wendy Maas I knew she was a writer to watch. I welcome her first book and am certain young readers will, too."--Judy Blume "Funny and touching at the same time. Wendy Mass has a winner in Mango's Mia!"--Meg Cabot "An intriguing first novel. Well-defined characterizations, natural-sounding dialogue, and concrete imagery."--Publishers Weekly "An original, brightly written tale."--Washington Post

EAN: 9780316058254
ISBN: 0316058254
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Dimensions: 19.53 x 13.31 x 1.91 centimetres (0.23 kg)
Age Range: 5-9 years
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1 review(s)
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lucinda on
 
Great book. I really enjoyed the descriptions of the condition.
I (as an adult who usually reads adventure) felt the book was a little slow.

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