This book, which won the 2009 John Newbery Medal for outstanding children’s literature, received many other accolades as well.
The story is set in Manhattan in 1979, where the 12-year-old sixth-grader Miranda lives with her single mom. Miranda narrates this tale that is told in the form of a letter to a mysterious correspondent of hers. This correspondent leaves Miranda cryptic notes and appears to know what’s going to happen in the future. Miranda dabbles in the future herself, by reading over and over her favorite book, Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time (ironically, the 1963 Newbery Medal winner).
Miranda never knew her dad, but it doesn’t seem to matter: she is very close to her mom’s boyfriend of two years, Richard. She and Richard spend long hours prepping her mom for an upcoming stint on The $20,000 Pyramid. One of the notes Miranda found predicted that her mom would be chosen as a contestant, and also indicated that her correspondent was “coming to save your friend’s life, and my own.”
Miranda explains to the person intended to read her letter that her best friend Sal doesn’t speak to her anymore after getting punched in her presence by another sixth grader, Marcus Heilbroner. She doesn’t understand the dynamics, but opts to make friends instead with Annemarie, who is temporarily on the outs with her best friend Julia. She describes all of this in her letter at the direction of her correspondent, who wants all the details, as much as she can remember.
What could it possibly mean?
Discussion and Evaluation: Miranda is a very appealing character, and I also thought the depictions of other twelve-year-olds in her class were very well done. Her mother too, seemed exactly like a single mom of a young girl would be.
Nevertheless, I only “liked” this book rather than “loved” it. I confess that I never read A Wrinkle in Time, and that might have had something to do with it, for the stories seemed to be quite intertwined. And somewhat bizarrely, I thought this would make a way better movie than a book. I don’t often have that reaction to Middle Grade stories! Finally, the story just didn’t have much of an emotional impact on me.
But, as indicated above, it won a lot of prizes, and has lots of fans among readers.
Published by Wendy Lamb Books, 2009
Some Notable Awards:
Newbery Medal (2010)
Dorothy Canfield Fisher Children’s Book Award Nominee (2011)
IRA Children’s and Young Adult’s Book Award for Young Adult–Fiction (2010)
Indies Choice Book Award for Middle Reader (2010)
Boston Globe-Horn Book Award for Fiction and Poetry (2010)
Massachusetts Children’s Book Award (2012)