Yet another popular series comes to an end (are you sensing a trend lately?). Wendy Mass is one of my favorite writers OF ALL TIME (particularly JEREMY FINK AND THE MEANING OF LIFE and A MANGO SHAPED SPACE) and I’ve really enjoyed the Willow Falls series (11 BIRTHDAYS, FINALLY, 13 GIFTS), now concluding with THE LAST PRESENT (Scholastic 2013).
The tale that began with Amanda and Leo repeating their 11th birthday until they got it right comes full circle as the two have to save their friend Grace by going back in time to make sure her past birthdays go a certain way. Yep, Angelina D’Angelo is working some strange magic once again and, as always, she’s not telling them the whole story. They’ll have to rely on their group of friends, including Tara and Rory (stars of books 2 and 3), to solve the mystery.
Mass knows just how to capture the tween reader’s attention with a fun and authentic voice. She does this whole fantasy/magical realism mash-up in such a natural way that you completely accept all the wacky things going on. But the real story of THE LAST PRESENT goes beyond magic and family curses to the strength of friendship – and ultimately, how it is what brings everything back around to normal again.
It’s a fitting ending to the series, wrapping things up like a neat little present to her readers, as the title suggests. We’re going to miss Willow Falls, and this last visit proves it’s a special little town indeed.