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Book Review: Mick Harte was Here

Summary: This charming book highlights the family's grief following a death without helmet.

Mick Harte Was Here is a short novel for middle school students. It is primarily the story of a family's struggle to deal with grief. The helmet connection is that the grief is for a dead brother and son who died in a crash without a helmet.

Mick's sister Phoebe narrates the story. She sets the scene, introduces the crash, and then spends most of the book in memories of her brother, some hilarious, some serious. These are interspersed with scenes of the family--mother, father and Phoebe--attempting to deal with their loss.

Author Barbara Park has done such a fine job that this book will appeal to a much wider range of readers than just middle school. The memories of Mick are warm and readable. Even an adult will find it hard to put this book down. The helmet message is clear and has impact, but the book does not preach to the reader.

Mick Harte Was Here was published by Scholastic in 1996. It is 85 pages long in 8x5 inch format. The back cover says "Only available for distribution through the school market." Check this link to find a copy and more reviews on Amazon.com.

Teaching Aids Available

The California Department of Health Services produced just what you need to use Mick Harte was Here as a teaching tool. It is a Mick Harte Was Here Teacher's Guide "for promoting helmet use, bike safety, and dealing with issues of grief and loss." And if you want to try others, a site called Teachers Pay Teachers will sell you a whole raft of different teaching guides and lesson plans for the book, starting at about $3. Or you can buy a guide on Amazon. A web search will reveal other sources.