August 8th, 2013

wings, believe

Author Spotlight: Wendy Mass

Novels by Wendy Mass will make readers think about life on a grand scale as well as a more personal one.

A Mango-Shaped Space

Every turn of the page offers another peek into the mind of a 13-year-old girl named Mia. She sees colors related to numbers, letters and sounds but has kept this a secret ever since she was little and realized that other people do not see things the same way.

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Leap Day

In 2004, a very cute and insightful book entitled was released in anticipation of February's special day: February 29th, a date that comes only once every four years. The book was Leap Day by Wendy Mass.

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Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life

When Jeremy was just eight years old, his father passed away in an automobile accident. His family had been dreading this day almost all of his life, ever since a fortune-teller told him he would die at age forty. She was wrong: He died at age thirty-nine.

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Heaven Looks a Lot Like the Mall

Imagine coming upon a bag of forgotten things, then reliving memories for each and every item you touch. After being beaned on the head during a game of dodgeball, high school junior Tessa finds herself in what she thinks is heaven - but what looks a lot like the local mall.

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Twice Upon a Time

Wendy has written three books in the Twice Upon a Time series: Rapunzel: The One With All the Hair, Sleeping Beauty: The One Who Took the Really Long Nap, and Beauty and the Beast: The Only One Who Didn't Run Away. This line of funny stories for younger readers retells familiar fairy tales from two points of view, typically that of the fabled heroine and the dashing prince. The dual narrative gives more insight into the storybook characters, who are a little feister and funnier than you may expect, based on the originals. Hurrah for princesses and princes who have loftier goals than marriage and inheritance!

Every Soul a Star

Ally loves her home. Her family owns and operates a campground in "the Middle of Nowhere, USA." It's a good life, filled with stargazing and studies. She dreams of discovering a comet, something that would have made her late grandfather proud. She likes being homeschooled and working alongside her parents and her younger brother, Kenny. In fact, she enjoys all of it and can't imagine ever living anywhere else. Ally's a happy girl.

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11 Birthdays

11 Birthdays is Groundhog Day for tweens.

Amanda and Leo have known each other forever. No, really. Their parents met in the Willow Falls Birthing Center the day that their kids were born. Exactly one year later, they all happened to be at the same place for their birthday parties. Leo offered Amanda his stuffed bear, and the two babies became friends. They celebrated their birthday together every year since. Then, during their tenth birthday party, Amanda overheard Leo say something that really hurt her, and they pretty much stopped speaking to each other.

Amanda's eleventh birthday isn't horrible, but the day doesn't exactly go according to plan, either. She gets talked into trying out for the school gymnastics team by her friend, then freezes up when she's supposed to do a back handspring. Her dad has a terrible cold. Her older sister Kylie seems preoccupied. In honor of her movie-themed birthday party, her mom got Amanda a Dorothy costume that's uncomfortable. With Leo having his own party at the same time, only half of the kids that were invited come to Amanda's house, and some leave early to go to Leo's place. Wearing an itchy dress and shoes that hurt her feet, Amanda's pretty miserable, but she doesn't really complain. As she crawls into bed that night, she's thankful for what she has - her family, her health, the upcoming weekend - and is grateful that the day is over.

Then she wakes up the next day - or what she thinks is the next day - only to discover it's Friday again! At first, she thinks her family is teasing her, but her sister's wearing the same outfit and her parents are insisting that she goes to school, so she goes with it. Almost everything that happened the previous day at school happens again, and the same things happen that night at her birthday party. Amanda's puzzled, to say the least, but sure that everything will go back to normal the next day.

Then the next day ends up being the same day again - and she discovers that Leo's reliving their birthday, too! Once they team together to figure out what's going on, they try all sorts of things to break the cycle. One day, they find out what happens if they bend the rules. Another day, they perform random acts of kindness. By repeating the same day over and over again, they are able to anticipate what's going to happen. They also manage to mend their broken friendship, thanks in part to a mysterious and kind elderly woman with a duck-shaped birthmark.

Once again, Wendy Mass captures a precious age without pretension, without making her characters too precocious. It's very nice to see a boy and a girl be just friends, without any romance involved or assumed. Throughout the story, Leo and Amanda act their age: they are stubborn, truthful to a fault, impulsive, even silly at times. This is a totally cute story that both kids and their parents will enjoy.

11 Birthdays was the first of Wendy's novels set in Willow Falls. The magic continues in Finally, 13 Gifts, The Last Present, and Graceful. Read the books in order to appreciate the crossovers and cameos.

Additional novels by Wendy Mass which I have yet to read:
The Candymakers
Pi in the Sky

Real Stories

Wendy has also written several non-fiction titles.

Read my exclusive interview with Wendy Mass.

Visit Wendy's official website.