|What You Need to Know:
• Mira discovers that she can travel back in time and that her mission is to fight religious intolerance and prejudice.
• The story takes place in France, where Mira moves back and forth between the present day and the late 1800's.
• There are many references to real people and actual events.
• The reader is introduced to some incidents concerning antisemitism.
• Readers are introduced to prominent artists from the late nineteenth century.
• Mira finds herself in an innocent romantic relationship.
• Small sketches scattered throughout the pages bring Mira's experiences to life.
• Marissa Moss is also the author of the popular Amelia's Notebook series.
|Sweet Book Summary:
Mira's Diary is a blend of intrigue, art and history, as seen through the eyes of a young girl named Mira. It begins when a postcard arrives from her mother, who has been missing for months. The image on the card inspires Mira's father to take her and her brother to Paris in search of their mother. On their first day there, things take an unexpected turn when Mira is whisked back to 1881. She spies her mom who immediately runs off because families should not time travel together. Her mom leaves her cryptic notes, but these offer only minimal information and instruction. It seems that Mira and her mother are in the past for a reason, and their mission has something to do with discrimination against the Jewish people. With little guidance from her mom, Mira is lucky to meet an aspiring young (and cute!) artist named Claude, who helps her find her way. He introduces her to the artist, Edgar Degas, and other famous artists like Cassatt, Seurat, and Renoir. For Mira, who wishes she could be an artist herself, these meetings are enlightening. For readers, the encounters offer a unique perspective on the thoughts and daily activities of some extraordinary individuals. Readers also learn about Parisian neighborhoods like the Marais and Montmartre.
In addition to getting to know new people and adjusting to new surroundings, Mira makes some important discoveries about prejudice and tolerance in the late 1800's. She finds that the Marais is home only to Jews because "Nobody else wants to live with the Jews." She witnesses an angry mob of people screaming "Kill the Jews!" and even her new friend Degas says that the Jews are "a vile race of cowards." Mira is Jewish, but has never really experienced much antisemitism, so these attitudes are very shocking to her. They make her realize how important it is for her to do something, to make a difference. That "difference" is saving a Jewish soldier, Dreyfus, who is falsely accused of selling military secrets to the Germans. Can she convince Degas or the writer, Emile Zola, to become a friend of the Jews and speak out in favor of Dreyfus? If she can, will that bring her mom home?
Readers watch as Mira gains understanding and confidence, and they themselves are reminded to fight for the truth and that "Justice is something we should all care about." Throughout the story, things like Impressionism and Zionism are explained, but for those who want more information, the Author's Note provides her sources, as well as additional details on Paris, the Impressionists, Zola, and the Dreyfus Affair. Although some of the concepts addressed in Mira's Diary are complicated, the writing is straightforward, and the dialogue and illustrations help the story to move along quickly. As with most stories that involve time travel, readers must suspend disbelief, ignore the unexplained and follow along closely. The way that Mira addresses the reader with her questions and thoughts is clever and engaging. The unresolved ending will leave readers anxious for book two.
|Author: Marissa Moss Illustrator: n/a Published: 2012, 224 pages
Themes: Adventure, Art, History, Identity, Religion, Self-Awareness/Discovery, Time Travel, Tolerance
|Sweet Discussion Questions:
• Would you like to travel in time? Would you rather go into the future or the past? Why?
• Why did Marissa's mom leave their family? Were her reasons good enough?
• Why did Degas feel the way he did about Jewish people?
• Why was Dreyfus accused of a crime?
• In what ways do prejudice and intolerance still exist in the world today?
• How does Mira accomplish her mission?
• What do you think makes some things "touchstones" for Mira?
• If you could go back in time and meet a famous person, who would you like that person to be?
• What do you think will happen next for Marissa?
|This recommendation was written by: Melissa G.
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