From School Library Journal
Gr 5-8-Basil has just started seventh grade after being homeschooled by his hippie-era grandmother. At first he thinks he wants to make friends with other students, but he soon decides that he is just too freaky and different to ever have any friends. In October, when Tenzie shows up at school, everything changes. She is pushy and determined to befriend Basil, whether he likes it or not. When he finds out that Tenzie sees numbers as colors, too, he is prompted to do some research. He discovers that they both have the same neurological condition, only Tenzie's synesthesia helps her with math, whereas Basil's makes him hopelessly confused. Life gets topsy-turvy when Basil's mother, who abandoned him seven years earlier, shows up in town. Basil is wary of Carly, but Tenzie is enamored-the woman is beautiful, glamorous, and claims to be an actress. When she abruptly leaves town once again, Tenzie convinces Basil to run away with her and find Carly. The kids go on a harrowing journey only to discover that everything they need is back home. Synesthesia is an important bond between Basil and Tenzie, and readers are led to believe that the condition is going to be more central to the plot, but this is primarily an engaging story of a boy coming to terms with the shortcomings of his mother. It's a nice companion to Wendy Mass's A Mango-Shaped Space (Little, Brown, 2003), which also incorporates synesthesia.-Ragan O'Malley, Saint Ann's School, Brooklyn, NYα(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Twelve-year-old Basil is a loner, probably because of his “freakism” of mentally associating numbers with different colors. Then capital-Q quirky Tenzie (“her personality was like the brass section of a band”) arrives at school and befriends him—she won’t take no for an answer. Soon Tenzie reveals that she, too, sees colors in her mind. It’s a rather stiff start for the novel—it seems unlikely that neither kid would have searched the Internet to learn about synesthesia before meeting each other, and there’s a didactic quality to description of the condition. Thankfully, a plot emerges with the arrival of Basil’s mother, Carly, who disappeared seven years ago to try to make it in Hollywood. Carly is a rich character: charismatic, full of good intent, and quick to excite, but lacking the ability to follow anything through. It’s easy to see the attraction she holds for both kids—as well as the disappointment that surely is coming. Though slow to start, this sensitive novel has a fittingly tough and bittersweet finish. Grades 5-8. --Daniel Kraus