Monday, November 10, 2008

Every Soul a Star by Wendy Mass

Today, I'll be talking about Wendy Mass's new middle grade novel, Every Soul a Star which was published last month. This is Wendy's fifth novel with us; her previous books were A Mango Shaped Space, Leap Day, Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life, and Heaven Looks a Lot Like the Mall. Wendy has gone back and forth between writing middle grade and young adult for a while, but has decided that middle grade is the age group she's most passionate about writing for, and I just love what she's doing. Jeremy Fink is one of my all-time favorite books ever! And of her previous books, Every Soul a Star is probably the most similar in the sense that it also has a strong message, but told in a fun way.

Every Soul a Star is about three very different kids, Ally, Bree, and Jack, whose lives come together at the isolated Moon Shadow campground to witness a total eclipse of the sun. What I love about Wendy is that she tries something new with each book she writes. In this book, she’s written it from three different points of view in first person, and she’s succeeded in making each kid’s voice distinct--not an easy task! Ally has lived at the Moon Shadow campground for almost her whole life and is a bit of a brain, passionate about nature and space, and a bit sheltered and naive. Bree is beautiful, popular, wants to be a model when she grows up. Jack is a bit overweight, a loner, and loves drawing and reading science fiction. The book alternates between these three perspectives with snappy dialogue and beautiful descriptions.

The climax of the book is the description of the eclipse from the three different viewpoints, which I must say is absolutely breathtaking each time, and for the three kids is a life-changing experience. Another thing I love about Wendy is that she’s very thoughtful about the message in each book she writes, and she has such a talent for creating a wholly satisfying read that will make kids think, and yet is not too heavy-handed or didactic. Every Soul a Star will make readers look beyond their own lives and try to see where they fit in the universe.

I just love the cover design (by Alison Impey). The jacket has uses pearlescent ink which gives it a lovely sheen:

There have been some really lovely reviews for this book so far, including one from Publisher's Weekly:
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.

And a starred review from School Library Journal:
Readers who like quietly self-reflective novels like Lynne Rae Perkins's Criss Cross or Jerry Spinelli's "Stargirl" books will also enjoy this compelling and thought-provoking story.

Wendy's YA novel Heaven Looks a Lot Like the Mall is also now out in paperback. We decided to design a new cover, because we had gotten some feedback that said that consumers thought that the book was an inspiration/religion book. What do you think? Here's the hardcover:

And here's the paperback:

Which do you like better?


There was a great review of Wabi Sabi in the NY Times Book Review over the weekend, you can read it here. And here's a taste:

Remarkably, Reibstein and Young capture the essence of all of this with clarity, elegance and a kind of indirection that seems intrinsic to the subject... If wabi sabi is “a feeling, rather than an idea,” this outcome feels just right.


Alicia PadrĂ³n said...

I really like the hardcover one! It's very effective. I think the symmetry and perspective really draws you in. And I love the contrast of the "heavenly" sky with the very mechanical feel of the escalator. :o)

Rebecca Stead said...

I really loved EVERY SOUL A STAR. I loved the characters, and the science, and the way the story built toward a climax that I was fully expecting (it's the subject of the prologue), and yet still surprised and moved by.

You know what didn't move? My middle-grade son reading this book. Though once he lowered the book, looked at me, and said "Mom, this is GOOD."

I like both covers a lot, but am drawn to the second one. Maybe it's the red.

Anonymous said...

I agree that the first cover looks religious and might have been a turn-off for some. I like the new paperback cover and after reading your review of the newest book, I have another book for my stack!
Thanks for the review.

MotherReader said...

I just read and enjoyed the new Wendy Mass book. I'll tell you, every book I read by her is different from the last - in a good way.

I do think the cover of the hardcover looks like a religious book now that you mention it, but I like the look of it better. I don't get what the gumball machine has to do with a mall.

Christine Tripp said...

because we had gotten some feedback that said that consumers thought that the book was an inspiration/religion book.

Well, I think the fact that the title mentions "Heaven" has already GOT a religious tie at the get go:)
I personally like the first cover, with the "heaven" feel yet the "mall" escellator (sp... no spell check darn it!)
The second one, with the bubble gum machine means nothing to me.... it could be a grocery store for all I know.
Perhaps the clouds could be darker at the bottom, moving lighter to the top of the cover?

Kristi Valiant said...

I like the hardcover much better. The only reason that it would give an inspirational feel to me, is because the "H" in "Heaven" looks like the Hallmark logo. I guess the designer meant it to, since the other fonts look like mall store fonts. I would have used the Macy's font for "Heaven" and used some wilder font for "Mall."

To me, a gumball machine doesn't say modern-day mall, which the title seems to imply.

Christine Tripp said...

I would have used the Macy's font for "Heaven"

Oooo, great idea Kristi!

Ms. Yingling said...

I liked the hardcover better, but ended up not buying the book.

yamster said...

I have to admit I was bowled over by the hardcover (I even emailed Alison and told her she was a GENIUS to use those fonts) and so I find the paperback rather disappointing. It just doesn't have the same character.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Alvina--I had to laugh at the fact that you posed the question about the covers. I love the comments. You know how I feel about it! (hardcover baby! maybe it's not too late for the next printing... :o)