cover image Quintessence


Jess Redman. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $16.99 (384p) ISBN 978-0-374-30976-3

A girl suffering panic attacks after her family moves to a new town finds purpose when she’s lent a special telescope that allows her to witness a star falling to Earth in child form. To help the Starling recover its power and return home, 12-year-old Alma Lucas and her new friends, including supersmart but socially awkward Hugo and multitalented, popular Shirin, must collect and unite pristine samples of the four classical elements—earth, air, fire, and water—from locations around the town of Four Points. But with a bully on their tail, the Starling proving difficult to catch, and Alma’s episodes increasing, this quest won’t be easy. Mixing modern science and alchemical traditions, Redman (The Miraculous) delivers a fanciful adventure with a rich emotional core and a fairy tale flair. An emphasis on Alma’s mental health and circular thought patterns proves an effective complement to the story’s magical elements, as her new endeavor and friends grant her the resilience to navigate her needs. Reminiscent of Neil Gaiman’s Stardust, this is a clever, entertaining story with its own distinct identity. [em]Ages 8–12. Agent: Sara Crowe, Pippin Properties. (July) [/em]