From the Publisher
"A full-fledged and fully convincing drama" (Publishers Weekly).
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