Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

13 Gifts

13 Gifts

Fall 2011 Fiction
Ages: 8 - 12 yrs.
Author: Wendy Mass
Publisher: Scholastic
ISBN: 978-0-545-38793-4
Hardcover Price: $16.99

Tara Brennan has trouble fitting in, but it's no surprise. Her parents have strange jobs (studying the dating habits of lemurs, for instance) and they're constantly moving. Now, in yet another new town, Tara, in a misguided attempt at winning friends, pulls a stunt that gets her expelled from school. As punishment, she's sent to her Aunt and Uncle St. Claires' for the summer, in the small town where her parents grew up.

To Tara, this sounds horrible, but it's the start of a great adventure.

The St. Claires have a great sprawling house filled with interesting rooms. There are cute boys around, a peculiar old woman, a nice group of friends - and a quest! Angelina D'Angelo, (the peculiar old woman) gets Tara out of a jam and in return, requests 13 unusual items.

Awkward, insecure, and lonely Tara Brennan - a pre-teen everyman - comes of age and discovers some marvelous things on the way. From the quirky St. Claires, to the small-town charm, to the friends' camaraderie, and adventures, everything about this story works. Wendy Mass walks Tara and her friends along a wobbly tightrope of close calls that makes for a fun and furious, fast-paced read.

Teresa DiFalco   ©2011 Parents' Choice
Teresa DiFalco is an award-winning ghostwriter, writer, and mother in Vancouver, Washington. She's been a contributing editor for Parents' Choice for over ten years. She's a strong speller, a menace at badminton, and makes a decent soufflé.

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