My Name is Mina (and I Love the Night.) by David Almond

Mina loves the night. She loves birds and moonlight. She loves black cats named Whisper and weird creatures, like herself. She's writing a journal with all her thoughts and whims. Sometimes she leaves pages blank, just to leave them. Sometimes she reiterates, to let us know something is important. Sometimes she fills the whole page with words that she likes. If she wants, she can write a story in 3rd person. The mind is a place of wonder! It is!

There was a time when she couldn't be so free with her words. When she used to go to St. Bede's, her teacher Mrs. Scullery told her to plan everything she would write. Mrs. Scullery didn't understand why Mina's story did not follow her original plan, or Mina's explanation of "I don't want it to," (Almond pg. 15, 2011). Mina likes being nonsensical!

So she doesn't go to St. Bede's anymore. Schools are cages. She is homeschooled, and Mina and her mom do wonderful things. They eat bananas and make clay models and read encyclopedias and learn about archaeopteryx and talk about Heaven. That's where Mina's dad lives. Once, Mina thought she would go down to the Underworld to steal him back from Pluto and Persephone...but she got scared by Cerebrus, so she decided to go back home.

"Perfection is BORING! Perfection is EMPTY! Perfection is NOTHINGNESS!" (pg. 31). Speaking of imperfection: Mr. Myers' house is far from perfect. Since he died, they have put the house on the market. Mina and her mother are hoping for people who are Interesting! Mina's mom thinks it will be someone who wants a fixer-upper.

Did you know that most dust is made up of tiny fragments of human skin? "EXTRAORDINARY ACTIVITY: Stare at Dust that Dances in the Light" (pg. 73).

Two things happened that led to being homeschooled: SATS Day, and Corinthian Avenue Pupil Referral Unit. Those stories have to be told in 3rd person. The good news is that Mina created some very lovely words like claminosity! and blippistrakor! She also made some friends at Corinthian, but I'll let her tell you the rest.

This prequel to the Prinz Honor award-winning Skellig, is delightful in its whimsical look at early adolescence. Every girl should have a journal filled with just as much fun and honesty, and the publishers did a lovely job with typography. Highly recommended for middle school, and anyone who needs more joy in their everyday. Mina doesn't fit in, but she shows us that it's ok to be different.
"I look into the night. I see owls and bats
that fly and flicker across the moon.
Somewhere out there, Whisper the cat
is slipping through the shadows.
I close my eyes and it's like those creatures are moving inside me,
almost like I'm a kind of weird creature myself,
a girl whose name is Mina
but more than just a girl whose name is Mina," (pg. 10).

If you liked this, check out:
Skellig by David Almond
Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh
Dork Diaries: Tales from a Not-So-Fabulous-Life by Rachel Renee Russell (Dork Diaries, Book 1)
How to Say Goodbye in Robot by Natalie Standiford 

Almond, David. (2011). My Name is Mina (and I love the night. Anything seems possible at night when the rest of the world has gone to sleep). New York: Delacorte Press.

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