Pi in the Sky, by Wendy Mass (Little Brown, June 11 2013, MG)
In the grand scheme of things, Joss's family is rather important--his father, after all, is the Supreme Overlord of the Universe, and all his six older brothers have important parts to play in the smooth workings of the Cosmos. Joss's job is to deliver pies, and though they are pies of unusual gravitas, he can't help but feel unimportant as millions of years of pie delivery pass by and he slowly grows up...
Then the even tempo of Joss's life is shattered when a girl from Earth looks through the telescope...and sees the Realms of the cosmic managers. It's important that sentient planet dwellers not know the truth, so naturally (!) the whole world must be destroyed.
But one human girl, the one who saw too much, ends up travelling through space time pretty much to Joss's door. And Annika, thinking she is caught in some strange dream, changes Joss's perspective on reality. Together Annika and Joss struggle to bring Earth back into being, recreating its cosmic soup from scratch...but someone has sabotaged their mission, destroying all but two of the data files about Earth.
Joss's is a bizarre world, part utopian fantasy, part sci fi/fantasy metaphor for the workings of the universe (with science built explicitly into the narrative). The story, too, is something of a hybrid, as the two kids with a desperate mission (standard plot, with interesting twist) explore the scientific underpinnings of planetary creation (not standard at all!). It required me to relax my mind somewhat in order to accept the premise-- the idea of a childhood that
lasts for billions of years, as Joss's does, and the whole idea of the
Realms (whose denizens I think of as Cosmic Science Angelish types) were tricky for me.
Fortunately Annika's plight and her sturdy character, and the shock waves her arrival sends into Joss's view of reality, provided a substantial emotional framework for the fantastical. She is a determined fighter, and their relationship is the best part of the book.
This is one, I think, for younger middle grade readers. Younger kids will perhaps be more willing to suspend disbelief that 6th or 7th graders might be, might be most receptive to the humor that fills the story, and might not yet be familiar with the scientific tidbits that the science minded 12-year-old will already know about.
Interest is add for all ages by the inclusion of quotes form famous scientist at the beginning of each chapter, most memorably this one from Carl Sagan: “If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe.”
disclaimer: review copy received from the publisher