Friday, December 9, 2011

My Name is Mina by David Almond

In this prequel to Skellig,* we meet the highly intelligent Mina, who is being homeschooled because she did not fit well into the traditional elementary school system in England. Mina is a child who admires William Blake's poetry and spends a lot of her time thinking in a tree. Her story is told in the form of a journal (with effective changes in font style and size).

I love Mina and her lively imagination. She wonders about such things as a future world without humans, and "what if there was a story where nothing interesting happened at all?" Mina did create such a story: an empty page. "It's like an empty sky waiting for a bird to cross it. It's as silent as an egg waiting for the chick to hatch. It's like the universe before time began. Look at it closely, and it can be filled with memories, with dramas, with dreams, with visions. It's filled with possibilities, so it isn't really blank at all."

Life is a magical adventure for Mina. She records ideas for extraordinary activities in her journal: "Stare at the dust that dances in the light" and "Listen for the frail and powerful thing at your heart." David Almond knows how to get to what is at the very heart of things. He knows that daydreaming is an important activity and that growing up can be hard, but it also contains great joy. What a gift of a book this is. For ages 10 and up.

*Skellig is one of my all-time favourite books and David Almond is one of my all-time favourite writers.

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