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Mick Harte Was Here – Book Challenge 2K16

Molly Kane, Head of Teen Services and Emerging Technologies

MickHarteTitle & Author : Mick Harte Was Here  – Barbara Park
Genre: J Fiction
Publisher: eBook via Overdrive
Book Challenge Category: A book that was banned at some point

Description: “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.

Review: MCIU’s Reading Olympics list for 2017 was released last week. UDPL makes sure that we have multiple copies of all of the books on all three (Elementary, Middle, & High School) lists so that our students can start preparing as soon as possible. As I was looking through the list, Mick Harte Was Here caught my eye because it was written by Barbara Park, writer/mother of Junie B. Jones and I didn’t realize that she had written any non-Junie B books! I found it on Overdrive, downloaded it, and settled in to read it during my lunch break. By the end of lunch, I had come to the following (personal) conclusions:

  1.  The book was simply too short. Too short for any decent character development. Too short to allow me to care about Phoebe or Mick. Too short to help me (or any reader, young or old) to grapple with the weight of  mortality. Too short to be effective in any way.
  2. The book couldn’t decide what its focus should be. It jumped around a lot and crammed a great deal of angst into a plot that lasted fewer than 100 pages. It was about an untimely death, a sister’s guilt, a community’s reaction, AND a public safety announcement about the importance of bicycle helmets. All of those are important topics and books should be written about them – but to put them all into a such a brief story doesn’t allow the reader to really connect.
  3. This book MUST have been banned at some point. I was right about that one. Mick Harte was challenged multiple times because it’s a story about death written for elementary aged children.

Mick Harte Was Here isn’t a terrible book, but there are better ones. This is the first book from my Book Challenge 2K16 that I can honestly say I didn’t like. One out of five isn’t too bad, right?!