Wendy Lamb Books, 2009. 978-0385737425
Winner of the 2010 John Newbery Award
Synopsis: Sixth grade is turning out to be a confusing time for Miranda: her best friend Sal suddenly won’t talk to her after he gets punched, someone stole the hidden key to the apartment she shares with her mother, and she’s been receiving mysterious notes from a person that seems to know about things before they happen. Will she ever talk to Sal again? Will she figure out who is sending the notes? More importantly, should she write the letter requested by the mysterious sender or will she be too late to save her friend’s life?
Why I picked it up: It’s another one of those books that has been sitting on my reading list for a while and it’s heavily circulated at my local library.
Why I finished it: Stead’s writing is a delightful mix of science fiction, mystery, and adventure that bears a strong resemblance to Miranda’s favorite book, A Wrinkle in Time, which was also one of my favorites when I was in elementary school. She takes us into Miranda’s life and into her head as she navigates the minefield that is her life without Sal. Miranda struggles with the notion of time travel (even though it is repeatedly explained to her by two different people over the course of the novel), but she slowly begins to realize that it is the only explanation for the mysterious notes and how the sender knows about things that have yet to happen and even knows some things that no one should know. She’s also struggling with losing her friend Sal and trying to make friends with the girls in her class, some of whom she thinks are rather petty. Plus, she’s been helping her mom practice for The $20,000 Pyramid, which is a challenge in and of itself. But through all of these experiences, Miranda is learning that sometimes the things we don’t seem to understand are the most plausible explanations, if only we are willing to let go of our pre-conceived notions about the world.
Other related materials: A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle; First Light by Rebecca Stead; Liar & Spy by Rebecca Stead; Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson; Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin; Kira-Kira by Cynthia Kadohata; Turtle in Paradise by Jennifer L. Holm; Penny From Heaven by Jennifer L. Holm; Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures by Kate DiCamillo; Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo; Rules by Cynthia Lord; The Great Unexpected by Sharon Creech; Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy by Gary D. Schmidt