A 2021 NCTE Charlotte Huck Award Honor Book
A Bank Street Best Book of 2021
Quintessence is an extraordinary story from Jess Redman about friendship, self-discovery, interconnectedness, and the inexplicable elements that make you you.
Three months ago, twelve-year-old Alma moved to the town of Four Points. Her panic attacks started a week later, and they haven’t stopped—even though she’s told her parents that they have. She’s homesick and friendless and every day she feels less and less like herself.
But one day she finds a telescope in the town’s junk shop, and through its lens, she watches a star—a star that looks like a child—fall from the sky and into her backyard. Alma knows what it’s like to be lost and afraid, to long for home, and she knows that it’s up to her to save the star. And so, with the help of some unlikely new friends from Astronomy Club, she sets out on a quest that will take a little bit of science, a little bit of magic, and her whole self.
This title has Common Core connections.
A girl suffering panic attacks after her family moves to a new town finds purpose when she's lent a special telescope that allows her to witness a star falling to Earth in child form. To help the Starling recover its power and return home, 12-year-old Alma Lucas and her new friends, including supersmart but socially awkward Hugo and multitalented, popular Shirin, must collect and unite pristine samples of the four classical elements earth, air, fire, and water from locations around the town of Four Points. But with a bully on their tail, the Starling proving difficult to catch, and Alma's episodes increasing, this quest won't be easy. Mixing modern science and alchemical traditions, Redman (The Miraculous) delivers a fanciful adventure with a rich emotional core and a fairy tale flair. An emphasis on Alma's mental health and circular thought patterns proves an effective complement to the story's magical elements, as her new endeavor and friends grant her the resilience to navigate her needs. Reminiscent of Neil Gaiman's Stardust, this is a clever, entertaining story with its own distinct identity. Ages 8 12.