Books by Wendy Mass

Released: Aug. 28, 2018

"An obvious—and bland—riff on the Magic Treehouse series. (review questions) (Fantasy. 6-9)"
An odd item found in a flea-market suitcase sends two children back to days of yore in this series opener aimed at fledgling chapter-book readers. Read full book review >
Released: Aug. 2, 2016

"An overlarge recipe, tasty but flawed. (Mystery. 8-12)"
The winners of a candy-making contest track a mysterious but crucial ingredient. Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 9, 2014

"Its likable hero is just one reason to love this intergalactic space adventure. (Adventure. 6-9)"
Newly recruited Intergalactic Security Force deputy Archie Morningstar prepares for his first mission as co-pilot and navigator aboard his father's space taxi. Read full book review >
Released: April 1, 2014

"A solid start to a new chapter-book series. (Adventure. 6-9)"
Archie Morningstar has been waiting for "eight years, eight months, and eight days" to ride along with his taxicab-driving father. But when the night finally arrives, the experience proves to be out of this world. Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 24, 2013

"While the tale has general appeal, it is most suited for devoted series fans, who will most appreciate the tying up of loose ends and revelation of long-held secrets. (Fantasy. 8-12)"
The latest volume in the Willow Falls series finds Amanda and Leo trying to save a young girl through a series of eventful time-traveling adventures. Read full book review >
PI IN THE SKY by Wendy Mass
Released: June 11, 2013

"Science and absurdity frolic together to gleeful effect. (author's note) (Fantasy. 8-12)"
Astrophysics and cosmology play around with haphazard cheer in an experimental comedy that could be a Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy for kids. Read full book review >
Released: June 1, 2012

"Absolutely no villains—even the witch who cast the spell gets to turn herself into a cat to accompany her feline companion—and a bunch of supportive parents, siblings and buddies make for a squeaky-clean read. (Fantasy. 8-12)"
A reasonably charming middle-grade version of "Beauty and the Beast" has little bite. Read full book review >
13 GIFTS by Wendy Mass
Released: Sept. 1, 2011

"In equal parts philosophical and wryly humorous, this magical tale will satisfy both fans and new readers alike. (Fiction. 9-13) "
A rash decision involving attempted theft of a school mascot sets into motion a series of life-altering events for nearly-13-year-old Tara. Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 5, 2010

Set in a candy factory as tantalizingly fragrant as Willy Wonka's, this half-mystery, half-jigsaw-puzzle novel is a mild-mannered cousin to The Westing Game and When You Reach Me. Four 12-year-olds enter a candy-making contest. Logan lives in the confection plant with his parents, who own it; he narrates first, then the arc rewinds for the other contestants' viewpoints. Miles, who witnessed a drowning, adds a poignant fragility in his portion. Daisy narrates and readers see—shockingly—that she's a professional spy. Philip's no spy, but his section reveals unsavory intentions on multiple levels. There's no murder here—nor even death, it turns out; instead, there's forgiveness, correction of dishonor and an alignment of seemingly disparate events. This isn't fantasy, though it calls for a heaping cup of (enjoyable) suspension of disbelief (unflaggingly supportive grown-ups; chocolate pizza for lunch; adult confirmation that chocolate could potentially turn into gum and back again). Sweets fans will love the gooey sensory details. Earnest and sweet, with enough salty twists not to taste saccharine. (Fiction. 8-12)Read full book review >
FINALLY by Wendy Mass
Released: March 1, 2010

Rory Swenson just cannot wait to be 12, that magical age at which her parents will lighten up and allow her some independence. She's been promised that she can get her own cell phone, get contact lenses and attend a boy-girl party, among other things. Just as the long-awaited birthday arrives, Rory and her friend are selected to be extras in a movie being filmed at their school. As Rory begins to tick off items from her list, catastrophes begin. She learns that she is highly allergic to both gold and plant-based make-up, and she mangles her legs when she tries shaving. None of this makes her look good on camera. Rory's amusing disasters foreshadow the lessons she learns at her first boy-girl party, from which she escapes rather than participate in a kissing game: Growing up doesn't have to happen all at once, and it isn't always all it's cracked up to be. A couple of clunky plot points notwithstanding, Mass provides a pretty entertaining and solidly worthwhile read. (Fiction. 8-12)Read full book review >
11 BIRTHDAYS by Wendy Mass
Released: Jan. 1, 2009

In this slow-paced middle-school friendship saga, mildly spiced with a bit of fantasy, readers meet Amanda and Leo, best friends who have spent every birthday together since day one. That is, until their tenth birthday party, at which Amanda happens to overhear Leo talking her down to some classmates. In an extreme overreaction, she flees the party and cuts Leo out of her life. Implausibly, Amanda's grudge endures for an entire year, and she finds herself, stubborn and miserable, celebrating her 11th birthday alone. She muddles through a rotten day only to discover that she has to relive it, literally, over and over. When Amanda learns that Leo is likewise stuck, the former friends join forces, learning that dramatic consequences result from their smallest actions and discovering, in a somewhat contrived conclusion, what an old feud, an enchantment and the apple grove long since replaced by the town mall have to do with their extraordinary friendship. The commendable focus on a boy/girl friendship is somewhat offset by the flatness of the individual characters, particularly Leo. (Fiction. 8-12) Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 1, 2008

Three lives are transformed at a much-anticipated total solar eclipse. Ally, almost 13, lives at the Moon Shadow Campground, purchased years ago by her parents as the perfect eclipse-viewing site. Ally loves the place and yearns to discover a comet. Jack, 13, glumly chooses helping his science teacher lead an eclipse tour over attending summer school. Bree, 13, who scoffs at science and believes that "[a] good hair day is worth its weight in gold," is horrified to be yanked from her mall-and-makeup life and taken to Moon Shadow. Readers learn through Bree what Ally doesn't know: Immediately after the eclipse, Bree's parents are taking over the campground, and Ally's family is moving to civilization. Each girl is heartbroken about her future until Bree sees the moon through a telescope, which inadvertently releases her "inner geek." Bree's shallowness is initially narratively weak beside Ally and Jack, who are both smart and honestly childlike, as the three voices alternate in the storytelling; however, by the gorgeous climax, Bree is special too. Glowing astronomical details entrance. (author's note, further reading) (Fiction. 8-12)Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 1, 2007

Adequate but uninspiring free verse tells the first-person story of a girl whose life is summed up by a bag of stuff. Overweight, insecure, sneaky Tessa fails to duck when a dodgeball is fired at her and ends up in a coma. Her near-death experience, like much of her life, takes the shape of a visit to the mall where both her parents work. With guidance from a guy with a drill bit in his head (a misguided attempt to get high), Tessa revisits pivotal moments as epitomized by objects (a glass bowl representing a science experiment she cheated on; a stolen bra representing her first date). Through re-experiencing her memories and examining her own flaws and those of the people around her (her mother's constant harping on appearance amounts to abuse), Tessa predictably learns to love herself. A quick read with a commercial angle and an excellent cover (each word in a font evoking a different store), this will please readers but will be easily forgotten—much like your average day at the mall. (Fiction. 13+) Read full book review >
Released: Nov. 1, 2006

Years before he died, Jeremy Fink's father prepared a box containing "the meaning of life" for his son to open on his 13th birthday. When Jeremy receives the box a few months before that momentous day, the keys are missing, and it's up to him and his best friend Lizzy to find a way into the box. The search for the keys—or, failing the keys, the meaning of life itself—takes the two throughout New York City and into a spot of trouble, which lands them a very unusual community-service sentence: They must return treasures to the children, now grown, who pawned them long ago. This device brings Jeremy and Lizzy—both originals to the core—into contact with a calculated variety of characters, all of whom have their own unique angles on the meaning of life. Mass spins a leisurely tale that's occasionally Konigsburg-esque, carefully constructed to give narrator Jeremy ample time to reflect on his encounters. It may be a subplot or two in need of a trim, and the resolution will surprise nobody but Jeremy, but agreeable on the whole. (Fiction. 10-13)Read full book review >
LEAP DAY by Wendy Mass
Released: Feb. 1, 2004

Josie's 16th birthday is also her fourth birthday: she is a "leaper," born on February 29th, and she revels in the quadrennial recurrence of her natal day. This offering's action occurs entirely on Leap Day, advancing in timed increments over the course of the day, each chapter divided into two narratives. Leading off each chapter is Josie's breezily ingenuous first-person account, which reflects the monumental narcissism of adolescents. The "B" side of each chapter relates events as they run concurrent with Josie's own account, but in a roving third-person narration that illuminates the characters around Josie. Both very little and a great deal happen in this recounting: Josie turns 16 and tries out for a play—and her father finds his life's calling, her best friend comes out, and a classmate gives birth. It's a fairly risky construction: Josie is agreeable enough, but aside from her birthday, she's not particularly interesting; it's the other stories that swirl around Josie's that give both the story, and ultimately even Josie herself as she becomes aware of them, real depth. (Fiction. 12+)Read full book review >
Released: April 1, 2003

A young teen whose world is filled with colors and shapes that no one else sees copes with the universal and competing drives to be unique and to be utterly and totally normal. Thirteen-year-old Mia is a synesthete: her brain connects her visual and auditory systems so that when she hears, or thinks about, sounds and words, they carry with them associated colors and shapes that fill the air about her. This is a boon in many ways—she excels in history because she can remember dates by their colors—and a curse. Ever since she realized her difference, she has concealed her ability, until algebra defeats her: "Normally an x is a shiny maroon color, like a ripe cherry. But here an x has to stand for an unknown number. But I can't make myself assign the x any other color than maroon, and there are no maroon-colored numbers. . . . I'm lost in shades of gray and want to scream in frustration." When Mia learns that she is not alone, she begins to explore the lore and community of synesthesia, a process that disrupts her relationships with her family, friends, and even herself. In her fiction debut for children, Mass has created a memorable protagonist whose colors enhance but do not define her dreamily artistic character. The present-tense narration lends immediacy and impact to Mia's color perceptions: "Each high-pitched meow sends Sunkist-orange coils dancing in front of me. . . . " The narrative, however, is rather overfull of details—a crazily built house, highly idiosyncratic family members, two boy interests, a beloved sick cat—which tend to compete for the reader's attention in much the same way as Mia's colors. This flaw (not unusual with first novels) aside, here is a quietly unusual and promising offering. (Fiction. 9-13)Read full book review >