I knew very little about this book when I started reading it, and I'm so glad I knew very little. The magic of the book comes from letting it unfold before your eyes. I'm offering a very abbreviated summary for this reason.
Summary: Miranda is a delightful, funny and realistically insightful sixth-grader who lives in New York City in 1979. Her mother works as a paralegal and receives word she has been selected to appear on the $20,000 Pyramid. (For a longer summary, please visit the publisher's Web site.
Review: I loved this book. Miranda is a wonderful narrator, and the story in many ways is timeless. It's setting is 1979, but Stead does not beat it into readers' heads. The time setting is mentioned when it's relevant, and I found myself thinking of the setting as the year I was Miranda's age. Her situation is timeless. The story unfolds from a realistic fiction novel into a mystery and adventure tale. Miranda's favorite book is Madeline L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time, and she looks at the world honestly and with hope. I enjoyed each page, and as the mystery unfolded, I came to love each more than the last. When I finished the book, it stayed with me; the story was still unfolding in my mind. I fully expect this book to get some Newbery buzz.
Rating: 5 stars (out of 5) - really loved it