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"Frederick Douglas taught that literacy is the path from slavery to freedom. There are many kinds of slavery and many ... More

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Author: Nina Kiriki Hoffman

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Publisher: Puffin, ©2010

Material: Galley

Summary: Two factors contributed to the need for a fresh start: Maya was still struggling with the death of her best friend, and Dad needed a job. Maya was not looking forward to the first day of school. Thank goodness for her sketching. It at least let her capture interesting things ... like the fairy who visited her room the night before school started. Not all fairies are lucky, apparently. Maya gets in trouble with the teacher thanks to Travis (who is repeating 9th grade for the third time). A strange person speaking an odd language grabs her on the way to her first class and burns something under her skin. Why is it that the only people who want to sit with her at lunch are the quiet, keep-to-themselves kids across the street? When they hear about what Maya is drawing, and what happened to her arm, they want her to visit them after school. This is the start of an adventure across time and galaxies, with a lessons on friendship, too. This is a middle grade fantasy with a strong female main character.

Type of Reading: bedtime story, family reading, anytime reading, independent reading, read aloud book

Recommended Age: read together: 10 and up; read yourself: 12 and Up

Interest Level: 10 and up

Reading Level: 4.1

Young Reader Reaction: Review pending.

Adult Reader Reaction: Wholesome. Don't let a main girl character fool you into thinking it is a "girl book." There is an ensemble cast, and I look forward to learning more about Travis in the next book.

Pros: Combine the eclectic group of characters from outer space with earthlings Maya and Travis and you've got an engaging, heartwarming story.

Cons: None.

Borrow or Buy: Borrow. This is a quick, fun read. Perfect for summer.


Educational Themes: There are two plot lines that bring a sense of loss front and center: Maya and the death of her friends, and Travis, who lost his mom and whose grandmother has dementia. It may be an opportunity to talk about grief and grieving with teens.

Notes: The publisher donated an ARC (Advance Review Copy) of this book knowing that we would consider it for review and provide an independent, unbiased profile. This book will be given to a nonprofit to help readers in need.

Literary Categories: Fiction - science fiction, fantasy, series

Date(s) Reviewed: June 2013

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