Back to school daze

Ah, September. The start of a new school year. I envy those of you who got to shop for shiny new notebooks, funky gel pens, and a mirror to stick inside your locker so you can check your teeth after lunch. That was always my favorite part of going back to school (buying school supplies, not getting stuff stuck in my teeth). But I can’t complain too much. I did get to do some fun children’s book stuff this month. First was the Princeton Children’s Book Festival in Princeton, NJ where I got to meet lots of readers and made some new author-friends. If you live within an hour of Princeton, it’s a wonderful annual event where kids and teens get to meet dozens of authors and illustrators.
Next came a quick trip outside Philadelphia to a conference of Independent Booksellers to sign my newest book, Every Soul a Star. I was a bit concerned when I checked into the hotel because the welcome package included a pair of earplugs, a CD of soothing music, an eye shade, and a small bottle of lavender-scented “Linen Spray.” Basically this tells me the walls are thin and I should expect to use the earplugs and/or CD to drown out the screaming baby next door, the window blinds must not close all the way and I’ll need the eye shade to block out the blinding sunrise, and the linen spray? Well, that doesn’t say anything good about the condition of the sheets. Fortunately, my fears were unfounded and I slept like a baby. The good kind, not the screaming kind.
My last event of the month was Children’s Book Day, another annual event which brings over sixty authors and illustrators to the banks of the Hudson River in beautiful Tarrytown, NY. It was like the event in Princeton, but they had a life-size Clifford and Biscuit and Bunnicula running around. Well, more like walking around very carefully because it’s hard to see out of those big furry costumes. Again, if you live anywhere nearby, you won’t want to miss this next year. On the drive up there, I was listening to the audiobook of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. As you know from previous blogs, I’m a big audiobook junkie. Usually I’ll listen to children’s or YA books, but I’d heard this book was really funny. And while it’s definitely funny, it’s heartbreakingly sad too. I had to drive through the blinding tears, which meant I was blotchy and red all day. Ugh. I hereby apologize to anyone who reported crying on trains/buses/planes/study hall when reading A Mango-Shaped Space and/or Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life. My latest books are tear-free and suitable for reading/listening to in any public place. I promise.
And now, for the month of October, I am going underground. This is a term my friend Carolyn Mackler uses when she’s hunkering down and facing a deadline. The book I’m working on is called Finally, and it’s about all the things that a girl named Rory gets to do once she (finally!) turns twelve. No crying will be induced. Only laughing. It’s going to be a funny book. At least I intend to laugh while writing it!
Before I head out to the library with my laptop, I wanted to share one piece of advice I recently learned. If making all the changes that you want to make in your life feels overwhelming (as it does to me), simply Do One Thing Different. (Yes, I know it’s supposed to be differently, but this is a blog, not a book, and the rules of grammar are more flexible, so there.) Anyway, just do one thing different. That’s it. Take a different route through the halls at school, or through town. Eat at a new place. Talk to someone in class you’ve never spoken to before. We’re so used to our routine that we don’t see how things can ever change. The first thing I’m going to do different(ly)? Instead of taking the train into the city tomorrow (I live about two hours outside New York City), I’m going to take the bus! I’ve never taken the bus from here before. Might not seem like a big deal, but at least it’s different, right? I’m going in for the opening of Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist. A two hour bus ride might seem like a long journey to see a movie, but this is a special movie and my friends in the audience will include Rachel Cohn and David Levithan who wrote the book that the movie is based on. I’ll let you know how it went.
UPDATE: It is now midnight. I have returned from the movie and my adventure on the bus. First—the movie. AWESOME! Hilarious and sweet, and it kept the same “feeling” of the book, even though a lot of the plot differs. I highly recommend it if you’re old enough. (It’s PG-13). You can’t really read it, but David and Rachel are standing below the sign for the next showing of Nick & Norah. Courtney Shienmel (author of the new book My So-Called Family) and I are pretending we’re part of the movie poster.
nick2.jpg courtney.jpg
Ok, now onto the bus part of my story. Well, let’s just say, never could I have imagined how making that one simple choice would have led where it did. The ride in was fine, uneventful. Then home…I got to the Port Authority at 5 pm to see a big sign flashing the news of a Big Delay due to police shutting down the opening to the Lincoln Tunnel to investigate suspicious activity. That is never a good sign. After sitting on the bus inside the station for over an hour, not moving an inch, people began to stream out by the hundreds. I wound up walking to the Ferry, buying a ticket off a nice man in line (otherwise would have had to wait like 4 hours!), and headed across the Hudson River with the sun setting behind the glimmering city, the ferry lolling on the waves. But when I arrived on the New Jersey side, there was no bus out to where I needed to go. So I had to take a cab to my mother’s house an hour away (I didn’t have enough $ to have the guy take me all the way out to the bus stop where my car was), but when I got to my mom’s she was on her way out to a dinner date with her friends so along I went, grimy and exhausted. When the last fortune cookie was finally opened, she drove me the twenty miles to my original bus stop to collect my car. Moral of the story? I’m too tired to figure it out! But I’m pretty sure it’s something to do with me being glad to have broken out of my routine, and to have had an adventure I never could have foreseen. It also gave me the confidence to know that I was able to get myself home, even if it did take six hours! And my mom was happy because she got to see me and that made me feel good. So if you’re brave enough, try the One Thing Different idea. You never know, you just might get free Chinese food of the deal!
I’m now beginning my descent underground, and I hope you all have a wonderful fall season. If you’ve signed my mailing list or emailed me before October, expect a newsletter soon announcing the arrival of EVERY SOUL A STAR and some other fun updates, including a contest.
p.s. Those of you who have read Jeremy Fink will understand how excited I was to find a mutant red Good & Fruity in the shape of a perfect heart. Seriously, it’s a work of art! I’ll include a picture in my next blog. Assuming I don’t eat it first. Which I probably will.


  1. Jane on October 11, 2008 at 3:16 pm

    Can’t wait to see that mutant candy…just don’t eat it first, okay?

  2. Joseph Michael on October 15, 2008 at 7:09 pm

    Is a real pleasure writing you, I’m a 8th grader from Puerto Rico (Yabucoa) from the Dr. Roque Diaz Tizol private school. I am reading ‘Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life’ for my english book report. THIS BOOK IS AMAZING!! I began reading it today and I can’t stop it, really i don’t even wanna eat. Congratulations, keep writing books like this, because the teenagers really enjoy it!

  3. Cassie on November 20, 2008 at 6:14 am

    Hey There.
    I just bought Twice Upon A Time (both of them) and I CAN’T STOP READING!! OMG! They’re just so funny and hilarious compared to the originals.
    I’m just leaving them to give a compliment to you. Write more of the series! I’ll buy every book in the series as long as you write more! (lol)
    K, think thatz all. Now I’m gonna start on Sleeping Beauty.
    Yours Truly,
    Cassandra (Cassie)

  4. jone on November 24, 2008 at 8:45 am

    I just read your interview at Hip Mama Writer and cannot wait to explore your books. They sound very intriguing. I loved star gazing as a kid and still do love to look at the night sky. I like the advice: “do one thing different”.

  5. Maggie on February 15, 2009 at 5:00 pm

    You are my favorite author! So far my favorite has been a Mango Shaped Space…it’s sooooooooo good! I would be thrilled to get an autograph in the mail…is this possible?

  6. Haley Devine on May 9, 2009 at 9:13 pm

    hey wendy mass. you just came to my school the other day. i go to OKHMS. your speech was amazing. i can’t wait to read your new book called leap day. it look like a very intresting book.

  7. Kyra Bowlby on August 16, 2011 at 8:25 pm

    I remember my early tottler yrs.At first grade, I HATED reading, (and I had trouble reading, to). You know how people wish that there was such things as time machines? well I do. Even though that would probably NEVER happen, (I can wish. I think that there will be WAY to much technology that the city would end up being built like that that movie where the guy gets trapped inside of his fathers video game.)Anyway, about time machines, if they WERE real, I would like to go to the past of my life and meet Adam and Eve. AND I would go to my Teenager yrs. So if any of u wished that there was such things as time machines…. then yer not alone.

  8. Wennie on August 18, 2017 at 8:45 pm

    Hi Wendy!
    I cried a river when I read Mango shaped space. I was glad that I decided to read it in my room instead of in my classroom, that would NOT have ended up well:\
    Anyway, now whenever people at school asks me to do the crying challenge( Challenge to cry right then and there) I could take out this book and read it! ( It happens a lot in our school)
    Now whenever I reread this book I have to literally punch myself in the stomach to stop crying (Or threaten myself to, that’ll be less painful) Anyway thx for reading this 😀

    • Wendy Mass on May 16, 2018 at 8:38 pm

      Thank you for reading Mango. I am sorry about the tears and probably owe you a box of tissues. I have to say I love a book that can make me laugh and one that can make me cry too. xo

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