What You Need to Know:|
• The main character, Mimi, deals with school, family and friends as she copes with the loss of her mother.
• Readers learn that Mimi’s mother was killed when her bike was hit by a bus.
• Although only briefly touched upon in the book, Mimi is adopted.
• John Newman has also published a sequel to Mimi called Tao.
• Mimi is the first solo book for John Newman.
• The story takes place in Ireland and some of the lingo is typical of that area of the world.
• The issue of stealing is addressed in the story.
I loved this book! It’s fresh and poignant without being at all contrived. John Newman manages to take an extremely sad premise and turn it into a completely enjoyable, often funny, book for kids. He delivers a very realistic portrayal of a family going through a difficult time. Poppy Roche was hit by a bus and killed, leaving behind her three children, her husband and their dog. The story begins 149 days later, and is told from the youngest daughter, Mimi’s point of view. Her family is in a steady downward spiral as they cope with the loss. Her father sits in front of the TV and barely functions, her sister plays loud music and has a “dark and dreadful secret”, her brother drowns his sorrows in his drums, and their dog hasn’t been walked in months. As Mimi says, “We live in a sad house but at least it is not quiet!” The grandparents, aunts, uncles, teachers, and neighbors play an important role in the story, each trying to offer some solace to the children, but it’s not enough. Mimi goes to bed whenever she wants, gets to school late, rarely does her homework, and never brushes her teeth. As things go from bad to worse, friends and relatives try to intervene and eventually the family begins to slowly pull itself together.
Mimi’s first person, detailed account of what’s going on with her family allows readers to really get to know them. They fight, tease, laugh, cry, shout and complain, but most of all they’re there for each other. Their warmth and devotion is evident on every page as we hear about the treats her granny bakes, the help the aunts offer and the time they spend together. The close relationship she has with her cousin, Emma, and their hilarious game of “Dig and Dag” will have readers laughing in between the tears. Mimi also has a strong friendship with Orla who stands up to the class bully and makes Mimi laugh with silly jokes like “Who steals soap from the bath? Robber ducks!” As Mimi and her family go through the healing process, readers will experience their sadness, anger, loneliness, and amazingly, some periods of happiness. While the author includes some mention of modern technology, this story feels timeless. He seems to write for readers, not down to them, and the clever, sometimes irreverent text will keep them fully engaged. The book cover image is also appealing (although it gives nothing away as to the sadness of the story inside) and I enjoyed trying to figure out which drawing matched which character. Finally, I could have placed this book in Reader Senior, but opted for Independent Junior based on the delicacy of the subject matter.
2011, 192 pages
Adoption, Bullying, Divorce, Family Life, Feelings, Friendship, Illness/Death, Life Challenges, Siblings
• How old do you think Mimi might be?
• Why did Sally do what she did to Mrs. Lemon?
• What role do Mimi’s grandparents and aunts play in her life now that her mother is gone?
• How did Mimi handle Sarah’s bullying? Did she do the right thing? What else could she have done?
• How is Orla a good friend? How is her handling of Sarah's bullying different from Mimi's?
• Do you think that this book is funny and sad at the same time? How is that possible?
• Could the adults have done anything differently to avoid some of the problems that the kids encountered?
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