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Mick Harte Was Here Paperback – August 27, 1996

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

"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 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From School Library Journal

Grade 4-6?In this wrenching story permeated with humor and hope, a young girl must come to terms with the death of her brother in a bicycle accident.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 7
  • Paperback: 96 pages
  • Publisher: Yearling; 1 edition (August 27, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679882030
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679882039
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.2 x 7.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (186 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #31,137 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

I grew up in Mt. Holly, New Jersey. It was a small town surrounded by farmland . . . the kind of town where you greet people by name on Main Street. It was only an hour's drive to the ocean. So every summer we spent family vacations on Long Beach Island. My brother and I would ride the waves during the day and play miniature golf at night. It's the kind of idyllic memory that stays in your head long after you've grown up and moved away.
After graduating from high school and spending two years at Rider University, I transferred to the University of Alabama where I met my husband, Richard. Eventually his job brought him to Arizona. We both fell in love with the desert and wanted to stay here forever. Still, during the heat of the Arizona summers, those ocean memories would come rushing back. So-after years of sweaty summers-my husband and I finally built a house on Long Beach Island, the same island where my brother and I rode the waves as kids. In the story business, that's called "coming full circle." These days, Richard and I divide our time between the desert and the ocean. In the words of Junie B. Jones, I'm a lucky duck.

Q. What inspired you to start writing?

In my case, it was sort of "reverse" inspiration. I got a degree in secondary education. My plan was to teach high school history and political science. But, because of a scheduling problem my senior year, I ended up doing my student teaching in the seventh grade. The word disaster doesn't really cover this one. I'll spare you the details. But as I ran screaming from the school building every day, I knew that I would never be a teacher. My husband and I married after graduation, and started a family. A few years later, when I was ready to go to work, I was still haunted by the memories of student teaching. So I was "inspired" to try my hand at writing instead.

Q. How did you go about getting published?

The first children's novel I wrote was Operation: Dump the Chump. As soon as it was finished, I bought a copy of Writer's Market, found some addresses, and started sending it off to publishers who were accepting unsolicited manuscripts. It was rejected three times. All three rejections managed to work in the classic industry one-liner, "It isn't right for our list."

The fourth time I sent it to Alfred Knopf, Inc. A few weeks later, they called and said it was exactly right for their list. I felt like I'd hit the lottery.

Q: You've written middle-grade novels, early chapter books, and picture books. Which do you like writing best?

I can't really say which I like best. But after all the Junie B. books I've written, those certainly come the easiest. The middle-grade novels are more of a challenge. But in some ways, that makes them more rewarding. The last two I've written (Mick Harte Was Here and The Graduation of Jake Moon) were both about very sensitive topics, so it took a long time to get them exactly right. But I think those two books have made me the most proud.

Q. Tell us about your most recent picture book.

It's called, MA! There's Nothing to Do Here! It's about a baby in utero who is bored out of his mind. The idea for it was born (so to speak) when my daughter-in-law, Renee, invited me to my first grandson's ultrasound. Although I had never had an ultrasound myself, I'd seen pictures of other babies in utero. But I wasn't prepared for how amazing it would be to see my own little grandbaby on that screen. I felt like I was watching the Discovery Channel.

Q. How much did you continue to think about the baby after seeing the ultrasound? How did this develop into the idea for the book?

A. On the way out of the doctor's office, I remember thinking, Okay, so now we're all going back to our busy lives. But the baby is still in there just floating around. Except for an occasional kick or hiccup, he's got absolutely nothing to do.

A few months later-when I was getting ready to give Renee a baby shower-I wrote this poem, framed it, and gave it to her as a shower gift.

Q. Of the characters you've created, who is your favorite?

A. This would be a bit like picking a favorite child. I don't have a single favorite character, but again, I lived with the characters Mick and Phoebe Harte and Jake and Skelly Moon for a very long time. So those four are the most dear to me.

The characters I've had the most fun with have been the little ones. Little kids are so free to say whatever is on their minds. They aren't silenced by peer pressure and the notion that they have to sound cool. Molly Vera Thompson in The Kid in the Red Jacket is six, and Thomas Russo in My Mother Got Married and Other Disasters is five. They both were such fun to write about that they led to the creation of Junie B. Jones.

Q. Is Junie B. modeled after you as a child? Did you ever do any of the things that Junie B. does?

A. I was sent to "Principal" in first grade for talking. There were lots of notes sent home that year, as well. My father was on the Board of Education. Not good.

Q. There's been some criticism of the Junie-speak in the series. How do you answer concerns that Junie's grammar is not good for young readers?

A. Honestly, most of the grown-ups I hear from are writing to tell me that Junie B. Jones got their reluctant readers to read. I have drawers full of letters from parents and teachers that are so meaningful to me, I can't bear to part with them. These are adults who understand that fictional literature plays a whole different role in children's lives than a book of grammar or a basic reader.

That having been said, there are always going to be a handful of people who denigrate books that speak in a voice other than their own. I've stopped trying to explain the concept of literature to people like that. Wasted time better spent.

8. What makes you laugh?

My sense of humor is a little bit off-center, I think. In the movies, I usually laugh at parts that no one else seems to think are funny. Then there are movies like Young Frankenstein where I laugh from the opening scene straight through to the end.

Lots of other things make me laugh, as well. My husband and sons make me laugh. My dog. My grandsons. Friends. The absurdities of life. My lopsided cakes. The list goes on . . .

What advice do you have for teachers that are aspiring writers? For kids?

There's nothing revolutionary in my advice, I'm afraid. It's the same old stuff. Write as much and as often as you can. Try different genres to find your niche. Then rewrite, rewrite, rewrite. And-above all-be your own worst critic.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 25 people found the following review helpful By E. R. Bird HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on November 21, 2004
Format: Paperback
When I was a kid I rode my bike all the time. I rode it all around my block and up and down my street. I rode it with my dad and brother to the local high school where we'd play a makeshift game of bike tag. This was all in the 1980s and I have delightful memories of the time. Sure, there was the occasional scare. Once I rode into a street without looking and a car had to stop quite short to avoid hitting me. My dad wasn't too thrilled about that, but nothing bad happened and it wasn't as if I was punished. And not once, NOT ONCE, did I ever wear a bike helmet. At the time, I probably had some vague sense that I was invincible. Today, I look at that near miss with the car and silently shudder. Today kids know about bike helmets and most of them wear them. But there's nothing like a book like, "Mick Harte Was Here" to kinda drill the point home. I'm not saying that this book is just a good public safety message. I'm saying it tells a compelling story that will probably encourage your kids to take a little more care of their lives than if they hadn't read it in the first place.

"So this isn't the kind of book where you meet the main character and you get to like him real well and then he dies at the end", says narrator Phoebe Harte. Mick Harte is dead, to begin with. In a straightforward voice, thirteen-year-old Pheobe tells of how her brother's death was an accident in the purest sense of the word. He was on his bike, he hit a rock, and he smashed into a passing truck. Instantaneous head wound. Instantaneous death. But before you get to that you get to see a little of Mick on that last day. You see how he messed around with his sister and how they had a mild fight that morning. You get a sense of his sense of humor and wacky style.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Nataly on May 1, 2004
Format: Paperback
This book is MICK HARTE WAS HERE. I want to tell everyone this book is sad and funny. What I like most about Mick is that he dressed as Thomas Crapper for trick-or-treating. Some people don't know about Thomas Crapper. He is the man who invented the toilet. I like the name of the dog Wocket because Mick couldn't pronounce his r's when he was three. The dog's name was supposed to be Rocket.
The sad part is that Mick dies. Mick died from a bicycle crash because he didn't wear his helmet. Mick's family was like zombies. They wouldn't even eat in the dinner table because they saw the empty chair and they missed Mick. The dad didn't even iron his pants, and his mom didn't even change clothes. She didn't talk to her daughter, either.
At the end of the book Phoebe went to the soccer field to sit there, when she saw a stick. Phoebe thought was a perfect size and small enough to carve the letters into the concrete so they could stay forever. She wrote the letters big enough to see them: MICK HARTE WAS HERE. That was the saddest thing I ever heard, and I want to tell everyone you should wear your helmet, if not, every day there will be deaths. This is a great book for everyone.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By E. A. Nowak on September 10, 2004
Format: Paperback
I used to read this book monthly when I was younger. It really helped me grasp the concept of mortality in a nonintrusive manner. I recommend this book to mostly the youth, since it is a children's book, but I say let them read it before someone dear to them passes. It was a very important book to me and I feel it can be just as important to those who let it be.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 26, 1997
Format: Paperback
This is one of the most outstanding books dealing with the death of a child (and the family he left behind) that I have ever read! Right from the start, we are told that Mick will die because the narrator (his sister) doesn't want to use his death as a tear-jerker.

After that, the book ranges from horrifying to sad to hilarious. (I always laugh out loud when the story of the monkey in the driveway is told -- read it and see if you don't crack up!)

Park captures the pain of losing a sibling perfectly without being cloying or portraying the dead child as perfect. The family is REAL: they speak like real people, fight, laugh, cry, love, hurt, and heal like humans... this isn't a paper family
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By S. J. Meyer on April 3, 2003
Format: School & Library Binding
My mom took my sisters and me to the Scholastic Warehouse sale a few years ago. My sister, Rachel, dug this book out of the bargain bin. Although I read it first, I started reading it before bed, and stayed up, reading with a flashlight and bawling my eyes out. Rachel did the same, and Emily, one of our other sisters, who never cries at movies or books, also cried when she read this book. And it's not just because Mick dies, because you find that out in the first chapter, but because of the love you feel from the eloquence of the words Park uses to describe how Pheobe felt about her best friend and brother.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Sandra on February 25, 2000
Format: Paperback
Mick Harte Was Here is a story about a boy who died in a bike accident, as told by his sister Phoebe. The book was funny at times but mostly sad. I liked it because it was funny, especially the part when Phoebe and Mick write the word FART in cement. I would recommend this book for other kids to read, and maybe they will all wear their bicyle helmets when they ride.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on August 5, 2007
Format: Paperback
A helmet,... that's all it would have took to prevent the death of Mick Harte. Phoebe was at soccer practice when she first heard the ambulance sirens. Automatically she knew that something was wrong. Mick Harte Was Here, is about a boy named Mick Harte and how, his death had such an effect on his family and community. In this book, it really sets in on how important it is to wear a helmet when riding your bike. Even if you think you are too cool to do so. Mick, thought that a helmet would make him look like dork. One day when riding to a friends house, from school, Mick accidentally hit's a rock on the sidewalk causing his bike to get just close enough to the street for... well, disaster.

In this book, the authors largest and most important message, was to always wear a helmet while riding your bike. An author's note backs up her message at the end of the book where she gives actual percentages about bicycle accidents. If I were to rate this book, I would give it 5 stars defiantly! It is a fantastic book for families everywhere to read, due to its very important lesson. Another book that I read, and think you will like if this book sounds good to you is Freak The Mighty, which is also a bit sad at the end, but has a good plot and excellent characters.
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