by Barbara Park
: "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.
Copyright 1995 Cahners Business Information, Inc. Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms
School Library Journal
: Thirteen-year-old Phoebe works through raw grief and depression after her younger brother, Mick, is killed in a bicycle accident. A loving family, a sense of humor, and memories of mischievous Mick give Phoebe the strength she needs to speak about her brother at a school assembly.
Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information, Inc. Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms