13 Gifts

By . 9 CDs. 10:14 hrs. Scholastic Audiobooks. 2012. ISBN 978-0-545-35407-3. $64.99.
Gr 6–8—Tara is a misfit in her middle school. In an effort to be accepted, she tries to steal the school's mascot, a goat, which results in her suspension and her parents sending her to their hometown to spend the summer with relatives while they are off doing research on the courtship rituals of the Bamboo Lemur in Madagascar. Tara barely knows these relatives, and she faces the same problem in Willow Falls that she did back home—not fitting in. After a visit to the local second-hand shop, Tara takes on a quest to find 13 objects around town, although she's not sure why the woman wants them. The quest, though, brings Tara together with her cousin Emily's friends and she's not an outsider any longer. But what do these objects represent? The mystery behind all of this is revealed bit by bit throughout the book as Tara begins to feel like Willow Falls is where she belongs. Kathleen McInerney's reading of Wendy Mass's novel (Scholastic, 2011) is pitch perfect and delivered in a straightforward manner, helping to make this somewhat unlikely story believable. A perfect choice for middle school girls.—Joan Kindig, James Madison University, Harrisonburg, VA

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