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A Mango-Shaped Space is a 2003 young adult novel by Wendy Mass. The book received the American Library Association Schneider Family Book Award in 2004.[1] It has since been nominated for, and received, a number of other awards.[2] The hand lettering for the cover is by Billy Kelly. The book is recommended for grades 5-8. A 7 hours long audiobook version, narrated by Danielle Ferland, has been produced.

A Mango-Shaped Space
1st edition copy of A Mango Shaped Space by Wendy Mass.jpg
1st edition copy
AuthorWendy Mass
Cover artistAlison Impey
CountryUnited States
GenreRealistic Fiction
PublisherLittle, Brown Young Readers
Publication date
April 16, 2003
Media typePrint (hardcover) & Paperback), audiobook
Pages221 pp
LC ClassPZ7.M42355 Man 2003

The plot centers around Mia Winchell, a thirteen-year-old girl living with synesthesia, a jumbling of the senses: Words and sounds have color for her. The novel is about her experiences with synesthesia and the problems it causes her in school, with friends, and her ultimately winning the understanding of her family and peers.



As long as she can remember, Mia Winchell has seen words and numbers as colors, but has kept this a secret from everyone. In the year since her grandfather's death, she has depended for comfort on Mango, a sickly cat she has persuaded her family to adopt. When Mia enters the eighth grade and her strange experiences of color begin to cause her problems at school, she finally tells her family her secret. After seeing a few doctors, she has a diagnosis. She is a synesthete, a person with synesthesia, someone whose neural wiring is "crossed," creating the sensation of colors in association with letters, numbers, and sounds.

As she educates herself about her condition, Mia begins to explore the world of synesthesia and finds it increasingly difficult to keep up in school, maintain her friendships, and stay close to her family and little Mango. Then, when Mango dies, Mia has to learn to regain her colors and reconcile with her best friend.

Awards and AchievementsEdit

  • nominated for a 2007 Audie Award (for the book version)
  • received the 2004 Schneider Family Book Award in the middle-grade category by the American Library Association.
  • received the 2005 Great Lakes Great Book Award from the state of Michigan
  • named in the 2006 YA Top 40 by the Pennsylvania School Librarians Association
  • nominated for the 2005 New Hampshire’s Great Stone Face Award
  • nominated for the Iowa Teen Award for
  • nominated for the 2006 Virginia’s Young Reader Award
  • nominated for the Nevada Young Readers’ Award
  • nominated for the Louisiana Young Readers’ Choice Award
  • nominated for the South Carolina Young Adult Book Award 2006-2007
  • VOYA Top Shelf selection 2003
  • autumn 2003 Children’s BookSense 76 pick
  • listed as a 2014 & 2005 New York Public Library’s Best Books for the Teen Age
  • Bank Street Books top 35 children’s books of the last 35 years[2]


Critical reception has been mixed. A Mango-Shaped Space has received reviews from Kirkus Reviews Reviews, Booklist, School Library Journal, VOYA, Washington Post, Kliatt, and Publishers Weekly. Booklist praised that "the...narration lends immediacy and impact to Mia's color perceptions...a quietly unusual and promising offering".[3] Publishers Weekly commented that the book has "well-defined characterizations, natural-sounding dialogue, and concrete imagery".[4] The School Library Journal wrote "not all of the many characters are necessary to the story, and some of the plot elements go unresolved", and "Mia's parents are almost too perfect". Kirkus Reviews criticized that "the rather overfull of details-a crazily built house, highly idiosyncratic family members, two boy interests, a beloved sick cat-which tend to compete for the reader's attention in much the same way as Mia's colors", and stated that this "flaw" is "not unusual with first novels".[5] Kliatt criticized the plot, saying it isn't "half as interesting" as the "information on this rare condition". Kliatt also commented on Mia's "ups and downs", saying they are "fairly ordinary". VOYA pointed out that this book is "probably not one that teens will pick up without coaxing".[6]

The audiobook was criticized by School Library Journal, who states that "narrator Danielle Ferland moves from character to character effortlessly, but without much deviation in voice inflections for the secondary players". On the other hand, AudioFile praised the work, saying it "brings alive a unique young person and her rare gift".[7]

A Mango-Shaped Space has been praised by several authors, including Paula Danziger, Karen Cushman, and Meg Cabot.

Publication detailsEdit


  1. ^ American Library Association (2011). Schneider Family Book Award. Retrieved from[permanent dead link]
  2. ^ a b Mass, W. A Mango-Shaped Space: About the Book. Retrieved from Archived July 10, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ Booklist: A Mango-Shaped Space. 2014 Booklist Publications. Retrieved December 21, 2014.
  4. ^ "Publishers Weekly: A Mango-Shaped Space". PWxyz, LLC. Retrieved December 21, 2014.
  5. ^ "Kirkus Review: A Mango-Shaped Space". March 1, 2003. Retrieved December 21, 2014.
  6. ^ "Barnes & Noble: A Mango-Shaped Space". 1997-2014 llc. Retrieved December 21, 2014.
  7. ^ "AudioFile review: A MANGO SHAPED SPACE". Portland, Maine: AudioFile Publications, Inc. October 2007. Retrieved December 21, 2014.

External linksEdit