"Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life
by Wendy Mass (ages 10 -13) tackles the age-old question of what's it all really about?
"An elaborately locked wooden box requiring four separate but missing keys holds the treasure in this modern-day quest. Jeremy's father lived his life preparing for an early death, as foretold by a fortune-teller. He did, in fact, die when Jeremy was eight, but a package from him containing the locked box arrives one month before Jeremy's 13th birthday, the day on which the box is to be opened. With his friend Lizzy, Jeremy searches for the keys while contemplating the words engraved on the box, The Meaning of Life: For Jeremy Fink. 13th Birthday.
The search for the keys takes the friends around and about New York City, where they meet a large and increasingly convenient range of supporting characters, from members of a spiritualist congregation to a prominent astronomer, all of whom point them toward their own takes on the meaning of life.
Mystery and adventure fans will be pulled in by the locked box, and, as a bonus, will get to know quirky, scientific Jeremy and impulsive Lizzy. Some readers might become impatient as the metaphysical quest lengthens, but those who stick with the story will find a warm picture of parental love and wisdom and of a boy growing into his own understanding and acceptance of life." (From School Library Journal)
An excellent choice for some of the more cerebral and sensitive kids. Honestly though, if you've got an action-loving book baby, they may not stick with this "quest" story. But, then again, doesn't everyone want to know the meaning of life?