Friday, September 20, 2013
by Wendy Mass
Audience: Grades 4 to 6
Publication Date: September 1, 2011
In an attempt to make friends, Tara tries to steal her principal's stuffed goat, and gets caught. Her punishment is to go to Willow Falls, her mother's hometown, and stay with her aunt for the summer. This is very odd considering that Tara's mother never speaks of her childhood and has never returned to Willow Falls. Once there, Tara meets some new friends and learns that Willow Falls is not like other towns. After another ill-conceived plot, Tara finds herself indebted to Angelina, and now she is hunting down 13 objects, but she doesn't know from where, from whom, or why. But in true Willow Falls fashion, they all come together in the end to make something incredible happen.
Readers of the previous two books will be happy to see the series continue and new readers won't be too lost. While it does take Tara a while to warm up to her new friends, you can tell that they are all committed to pulling off whatever unusual plan Angelina has cooked up this time. The action never stalls, the characters are true and the whole story is heartwarming.
I say that, but the end bothered me a little bit. A love potion is involved and that seemed to be the first bit of obvious fantasy and it seemed to strike me a little bit. I would like to believe in a quaint little town with just enough wonder to feel magical, without actually being magic. It's another little small thing that made me cringe.
But magic is already playing a bigger part in the final book, The Last Present, which I scored from ALA and I am currently reading. I can tell that the series is going to wrap up in glorious fashion.
Like 11 Birthdays and Finally, 13 Gifts is a book best enjoyed on a warm summer day with some birthday cake at the ready.