Mick Harte Was Here

Mick Harte Was Here

4.8 103
by Barbara Park

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How could someone like Mick die? He was the kid who freaked out his mom by putting a ceramic eye in a defrosted chicken, the kid who did a wild dance in front of the whole school--and the kid who, if only he had worn his bicycle helmet, would still be alive today. But now Phoebe Harte's twelve-year-old brother is gone, and Phoebe's world has turned upside down.…  See more details below


How could someone like Mick die? He was the kid who freaked out his mom by putting a ceramic eye in a defrosted chicken, the kid who did a wild dance in front of the whole school--and the kid who, if only he had worn his bicycle helmet, would still be alive today. But now Phoebe Harte's twelve-year-old brother is gone, and Phoebe's world has turned upside down. With her trademark candor and compassion, beloved middle-grade writer Barbara Park tells how Phoebe copes with her painful loss in this story filled with sadness, humor--and hope. Chosen by Publishers Weekly as one of their Best Books of 1996. "A full-fledged and fully convincing drama" (Publishers Weekly).  

From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
"I don't want to make you cry. I just want to tell you about Mick. But I thought you should know right up front that he's not here anymore. I just thought that would be fair." Phoebe, the eighth-grade narrator of Park's (Buddies; Don't Make Me Smile) heart-wrenching novel, weaves together diverting anecdotes about her endearingly eccentric brother with her reactions, and those of her parents, to his death in a bicycle accident at the age of 12. The genius of this novel is Park's ability to make the events excruciatingly real while entirely avoiding the mawkish; likable Phoebe's frank, at times even funny narration will leave readers feeling as though they've known the girl-and Mick-for a very long time. Park's ability to convey so affectingly both the individual and collective pain of this family's members is remarkable. She focuses on small moments-the father closing the door to Mick's room upon returning from the hospital; the mother covering her ears because she cannot bear Phoebe's talk about her brother. But the novel has another crucial dimension in that it stresses the importance of wearing bike helmets. Midway through the story, in response to Phoebe's misplaced sense of guilt, Phoebe's father introduces the subject: "He heaved a God-awful sigh and whispered, `If only I had made him wear his helmet.'" The message is skillfully reprised toward the conclusion, in a powerful scene in which Phoebe overcomes her own pain and anger to participate in a school assembly on bicycle safety. An author's note at the end reinforces the message. To Park's great credit, the lesson never dominates-the story reads not as a cautionary tale, but as a full-fledged and fully convincing drama. Ages 8-12. (Apr.)
Children's Literature - Jan Lieberman
Parks has written a sensitive story that is told by Mick's sister Phoebe. We learn about Mick, 12, from Phoebe's funny reminiscences. Mick was the kid who put a ceramic eye in a defrosted chicken; who dressed as Thomas Crapper, the inventor of the flush toilet, one Halloween. When he did a wild solo dance at school, he said it was because "the music got in is pants." If only Mick had worn his bicycle helmet, he might be alive now. This is a story with a message but it is Parks' humor and sensitivity that make the story so touching.
School Library Journal
Gr 4-8Thirteen-year-old Phoebe endures the wrenching shock of her brother's death due to a bike accident and then must cope with the slow, painful process of dealing with her grief and that of her parents. Told in an intimate first person narrative, this novel by Barbara Park (Knopf, 1995), although somber in theme, is not without humor and appealing details of everyday life in the '90's. "Mick was a surprise," Phoebe tells us. "He loved it, too. Being a surprise, I mean. He was always teasing my parents about it. Telling them that even before he existed, he could outsmart two chemistry majors with birth control pills." It is through memories like these, and by firmly insisting that they be mentioned frequently by family and friends, that Phoebe is able to grow beyond the pain of loss. The fresh-voiced narration of Dana Lubotsky, which is both clear and sounds genuinely like that of a young teenager, puts this short, intense novel across in virtuoso style. Shedding light on the world of emotions with honesty, this will make a thought-provoking addition to libraries as well as preparing its listeners for the losses we all must bear.Carol Katz, Harrison Public Library, NY
Ilene Cooper
Park turns her wry eye on a serious subject, the death of a sibling. With love, wit, and anger, 13-year-old Phoebe Harte describes her brother, Mick, and the effect his death has on the family. It is a bike accident that kills Mick, and Park does an excellent job of capturing the shock and dissociation that a sudden death can cause in survivors. There's so much here that rings true: what friends can (and cannot) do, the inevitable rantings against God, and the seesaw emotions experienced by the whole family. Where Park goes a bit over the top is in her description of Mick, a real wiseacre, who puts a ceramic eye in a defrosted chicken and goes trick-or-treating as Thomas Crapper, inventor of the toilet. Not that this isn't funny stuff, but Park's inflation of Mick oddly diminishes him. Still, there is a sea of real emotions here, and readers, whether they've been touched by death or not, will find themselves touched by this book. Park's author's-note plea for kids to wear bike helmets (such a helmet could have saved Mick) may now fall on responsive ears.
From the Publisher
"A full-fledged and fully convincing drama" (Publishers Weekly).  

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Product Details

Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
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Random House
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File size:
2 MB
Age Range:
9 - 12 Years

Meet the Author

BARBARA PARK is best known as the author of the wildly popular New York Times bestselling Junie B. Jones series, which has kept kids (and their grown-ups) laughing—and reading—for over two decades. Beloved by millions, the Junie B. Jones books have been translated into multiple languages and are a time-honored staple in elementary school classrooms around the world. Every bit as funny as her best-known character, Barbara once said, “There are those who believe that the value of a children’s book can be measured only in terms of the moral lessons it tries to impose or the perfect role models it offers. Personally, I happen to think that a book is of extraordinary value if it gives the reader nothing more than a smile or two. In fact, I happen to think that’s huge.”

Barbara Park is also the author of award-winning middle grade novels and bestselling picture books, including Skinnybones, Mick Harte Was Here, and The Kid in the Red Jacket.

Barbara Park was born in New Jersey in 1947 and spent most of her adult life in Arizona, where she and her husband, Richard, raised two sons. Barbara died in 2013, but her legacy lives on in the laughter her books give to readers all over the world.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Brief Biography

Scottsdale, Arizona
Date of Birth:
April 21, 1947
Place of Birth:
Mt. Holly, New Jersey
B.S., University of Alabama, 1969

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