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My Name Is Mina

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Product Details

  • Hardcover
  • ISBN-10: 037598965X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375989650
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)

More About the Author

author spotlight
"Writing can be difficult, but sometimes it really does feel like a kind of magic. I think that stories are living things--among the most important things in the world."--David Almond

David Almond is the winner of the 2001 Michael L. Printz Award for Kit's Wilderness, which has also been named best book of the year by School Library Journal, Booklist, and Publishers Weekly. His first book for young readers, Skellig, is a Printz Honor winner.


Miraculous beings living in a miraculous world . . .
Maybe it comes from my religious upbringing (I grew up in a big Catholic family): I do feel that we are miraculous beings living in a miraculous world. Sometimes the explanations we're given--and the possibilities we're offered--are just too restricted and mechanistic. Stories offer us a place to explore (as writers and readers) what it is to be fully human. I do think that young people are interested in the major questions--Who are we? Where do we come from? Where are we going? Is there a God?--and they're willing to contemplate all kinds of possibilities. They haven't yet become tired by such questions.

Brutality has to be allowed its place . . .
Ten minutes of TV news is enough to convince anybody that the world is a pretty brutal place. We aren't yet perfect people living in a perfect world--and we never will be--so brutality has to be allowed its place. But the world also contains great tenderness, joy, hope, etc. I suppose that in my books I explore a world and people that are made up of opposites: good and evil, light and darkness, the beautiful and the ugly. And I hope that in the end, goodness, light, and beauty will have some kind of upper hand.

Stories as a whole form a kind of community . . .
The stories in Counting Stars don't have a straightforward chronological progression, but there are many links between the different stories. They form a kind of mosaic. Themes hinted at in one story are developed in another. Characters are seen in different situations/settings. I like to think that the stories as a whole form a kind of community or family. It's often said that there's a big difference between writing short stories and novels, but I'm not so sure. I think of my novels as a series of scenes/chapters, each of which I write with the same kind of attention I'd give to a short story.

A readership of four . . .
When I began to write Counting Stars, I wanted to write about my sisters and brother, and to use their real names, so I needed their permission. I worried that they wouldn't be happy about the book. So I invited them all to my house for dinner, and afterwards I told them my plans, and I nervously read one of the first stories, "The Fusilier." If they had said no to using their real names, Counting Stars would have been a very different book--and maybe wouldn't have been written at all. But they said yes! Over the next couple of years, after I'd written each story, I sent copies to my brother and three sisters, so that they could see how things were developing. So, in a sense, the book was written for a readership of four people.

Staring out of the window . . .
I write at home, in a little office overlooking the back garden. I scribble in an artist's sketchbook and type onto an AppleMac computer. I work all day--though some of that time will involve staring out of the window and eating apples. But I also travel quite a lot, so I'm used to writing on trains, in hotels, etc.

I used to wonder if I'd ever be able to write a novel properly . . .
For many years, I wrote nothing but short stories, and I used to wonder if I'd ever be able to write a novel properly. I wrote the stories in Counting Stars before I wrote Skellig, my first children's novel. I wrote them over a two-year period. As I wrote them, I found myself exploring childhood experience from a child's point of view. I rediscovered the powerful imaginative and emotional nature of childhood. Really, writing these stories changed me into a writer for children/young adults.

Messing about with paper clips . . .
I always wanted to be a writer. I wrote little books and stories as a boy, and wanted to see my books on the shelves of our little local library right next to my favorite books: King Arthur and His Knights of the Round Table, The Day of the Triffids, and The Adventures of Turkey. But as for writing, I simply like it all--right from creating new stories to messing about with paper clips. The best piece of writing advice I've ever received: Don't give up.

It's often children who read the books with the most insight . . .
I think that children can be much more perceptive, creative, and intelligent than we give them credit for. I see this in the many letters I get from my readers and in the things that they say when I meet them. Some adults assume that children will never "get" the more complex aspects of my books, but in fact it's often children who read the books with the most insight.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By KidsReads on November 9, 2011
Format: Hardcover
In 1998, David Almond published his stunning and strange children's novel, SKELLIG. In 2009, it was re-released in a 10th-anniversary edition that included a short story about one of the three protagonists, Mina. This fascinating character is now the star of her own novel, MY NAME IS MINA, set just before the action in SKELLIG.

Mina McKee spends lots of time in her favorite tree. She watches the sky, the birds, and the comings and goings of her neighbors. She recently left school and now learns at home with her nurturing and understanding mother, who has given her an empty notebook. MY NAME IS MINA is the entries she records in that notebook.

Mina is precocious, creative, slightly obstinate and a bit sad. She revels in nature and loves all flying creatures, especially those that come out at night, like owls and bats. She thinks deeply about evolution and change, as well as beauty. She questions authority and the value of traditional education. She is eccentric and delightful, and misses her late father. Her story, in Almond's hands, is not about plot or action, but rather about mood and thought. While time moves forward, this unique novel is about what Mina thinks much more than what she does. What she thinks about, perhaps without realizing it herself, is trying to understand her place in the world. She ponders natural transformation, the meaning of words and the meaning of dreams, the taste of good food, joy and sorrow, friendship, life and death.

After the loss of her father and her inability to succeed at school, Mina is ripe for profound discovery. Her introspection is beautiful and sometimes heart-wrenching. "Look at the world," she writes, "Smell it, taste it, listen to it, feel it, look at it. Look at it!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on December 2, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
Mina's mother is the essence of patience and acceptance. Mina is sensitive and extremely intelligent.

The author is biased toward public school, but makes some points that hit the mark. The work makes me more sensitive to kids who are not conformist. I love this book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Heidi G on May 30, 2012
Format: Hardcover
This prequel to Skellig is a difficult book for me to judge. Who is the intended audience? Preteens? Mina is a young girl whose father has died and after difficulties at school, is being homeschooled by her mother. She is a free spirit who has a favorite tree which she climbs to watch the world and write in her journal. She is inquisitive, a young girl who asks questions about the world which seem a bit out of place coming from someone so young. She is a dreamer, thoughtful and kind. This was a book I just didn't get. Perhaps if I'd read Skellig prior to this book, Mina's story would make more sense. I see it as a good teacher reference for writing activities but don't think it would be a book checked out much in my library. Thanks to Puget Sound Council for the review copy.
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Format: Paperback
My Name Is Mina is a prequel novel (written after its more well-known counterpart Skellig, as they often are) laid out in epistolary format via Mina's notebook. At night, while all the rest of the world sleeps, Mina's mind is awake and racing. Here, in this journal, she tries to make sense of all the fragments of thought that race through her mind. Mina is a child who naturally sees the world a little differently than most... and for this, she is relentlessly teased whenever she tries to attend public school. After some time of back and forth between trying to fit in at school and mental health breaks at home (weeks at a time), Mina's mother decides to just home-school Mina full-time, not wanting to forsake her daughter's unique mind and personality just to fit into "the norm".

I personally read this book before I read Skellig, but honestly I think it would serve readers better to read Skellig first. This novel focuses more on Mina personally, only lightly touching upon the events of Skellig here and there (the biggest reference is how Mina comes to know Michael from the original story), but I think if readers read Skellig first, the references in My Name Is Mina will be easier to comprehend and tie into the original story. It was also interesting to see the character growth of Mina from this prequel to Skellig. Here -- maybe it's because we get to know her through her journal rather than dialogue, I don't know -- her personality, via her written down thoughts, felt much more manic, frantic in tone to me than in Skellig, even though there's only a day or so passage of time between the two stories. But people do tend to journal thoughts a lot more passionately than we speak them, so maybe that's what I was experiencing.
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Format: Kindle Edition
I loved this book. It may be in part because I liked Skellig quite a bit. I liked this more, but I am not sure it would have been a five star review for me if I hadn’t read Skellig first (even though this is a prequel). The crazy thing is, I probably wouldn’t have read it if it wasn’t available for electronic borrowing from my local library…AND…my first three choices were unavailable, and…
Ok, so this is the journal of a rather intelligent nine year old girl (some reviewers say 12, but I thought it said nine, correct me if I’m wrong), who is also a bit of a misfit. I relate to her is so many ways, and David Almond does a wonderful job of making her come to life.
I guess we both are just really in touch with our inner nine year old girls…which sounds so wrong on so many levels. It’s actually rather gender neutral.
I read this in one day so I thought that it was about 100 pages(real page numbers didn’t come up in my Kindle app). It turns out to be 300, but it went like lightning for me.
It also shows that a person who doesn’t fit into our regular school system can be very bright, but just different.
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