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by Barbara Park

Pub Date: April 20th, 1995
ISBN: 0-679-87088-1
Publisher: Knopf

It's always difficult reading about the death of a child, especially when he's ``one of the neatest kids you'd ever want to meet.'' That's how Phoebe Harte, 13, describes her slightly younger brother Mick, in a poignant story by a writer more associated with making readers laugh (Maxie, Rosie, and Earl—Partners in Grime, 1990, etc.) than cry. Phoebe tells readers right away that Mick has died from a head injury he suffered in a bike accident, but then interweaves the story of his life with the grief she and her parents endure afterward. What emerges is a portrait of an alternately charming and pesky brother, who is missed tremendously by his family, his friends, and his community. Park relieves the tragedy with side-splitting remembrances, all told in the wry, authentic voice of a young teenage girl. Phoebe decides to address her schoolmates at an assembly about the need for bike helmets, a message the author endorses with a personal note. But although the point comes through clearly, the book itself is not didactic. It is finally just a very moving story about a terrific 12-year-old boy. By the end of the book, readers miss him, too. (Fiction. 8-12)