Award-winning author Wendy Mass takes a detour from her usual realistic fiction with her latest book, the extraterrestrial adventure Pi in the Sky. As always, however, her characters are wonderfully accessible and their self-explorations are timeless.

Thirteen-year-old Joss will tell you that all that “special” stuff about being a seventh son is just hooey—even if you are the seventh son of the Supreme Overlord of the Universe. All it means to Joss is that his brothers got all the cool jobs—creating new species, composing the music of the spheres, etc.—and he got stuck delivering pies. Yes, pies. The Powers That Be use the cosmic pies as the germination for their endeavors, and they need someone to deliver them. Joss is pretty sure it’s just a made-up job to keep him busy. Everything in The Realms where he lives can be instantly altered in appearance, so why can’t the pies be instantly delivered?

It all becomes irrelevant when an Earthling looks through a telescope one night and can see The Realms. This act places the whole universe in jeopardy—removing the Earth from Time and Joss’ best friend along with it, and depositing a human girl named Anika in the Supreme Overlord’s office. Suddenly, Joss’ job is no longer to deliver pies, but to bring back the Earth. Can Joss really do that? Or, better yet, should he? As he and Anika work together, Joss discovers secrets to the universe even he didn’t know. At the same time, young readers trying to figure who they are will relate to Joss’ discovery of the secrets about himself.

Mass has done an admirable job creating a strange world “behind the stars,” although she doesn’t take the fantasy too far into the incomprehensible. She opens each chapter with a quote about science or the universe from such real-life notables as Carl Sagan and C.S. Lewis. Her preface and author’s note at the end of the book are essential reading as she explains her inspiration and encourages her readers to further scientific exploration.

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