“To write is to take some words for a walk”-Mina pg. 104
My name is Mina by David Almond is one of those rare treats that I simply devoured. I was blown away by the poetic writing and philosophical thoughts this very special 9 year old girl was capable of producing. Even though she is deemed, weird and ‘crackers’ by some, she had the ability to make any reader fall in love with her. Although the book doesn’t have much of a plot, it definitely kept my attention, written in a diary format with eye catching fonts, styles, and poems.
Everything in the design of the book reflected Mina’s unusual personality. Mina wrote about her life-including her dislike of school, trouble making friends, her deceased father and newly dating mother, and religion… but mostly, she wrote A LOT about birds. She had a huge fascination with birds, and at one point even labelled herself the Guardian of the Chicks. The book also had some of the most hilarious and strange chapter titles; my personal favourite is ‘Fig Rolls, Pee, Spit, Sweat & all the Words for Joy (Chapter 8)”. These titles hinted at the chapter contents and made me want to keep reading chapter after chapter to find out what Mina could possibly say about the topic. Moreover, at the end of the majority of chapters, Mina leaves the reader with an ‘EXTRAORDINARY ACTIVITY’ challenge. For example, after filling two whole pages with words that bring her joy, she also challenges the reader to do the same. I think they were super inspiring, and glad they were included in the book.
The book had so many fantastic philosophical quotes that I find it difficult to pick one. Therefore, I have chose one that simply made me laugh. This quote is Mina describing her teacher—
“She stared out of the classroom window into the darkening afternoon. I could see she was thinking that it would have been better for her to be something like a traffic warden of a police constable. Or a sprout, maybe”.
Not only are there fantastic quotes, but there are empowering short stories that Mina writes about herself using the third person narrative. Earlier in the book Mina explains, “But somehow it is better to write this in the third person, to say, “Mina did this and Mina did that”. She writes these mini stories in the third person to make her feel brave and confident—like when she approaches the boy neighbour that just moved in.
I adored getting to know the free-spirited Mina, and definitely will be reading Skellig the sequel. Even though Skellig was released first, you don’t need to have read it to understand the character of Mina. I hope she never has a ‘destrangification operation’ because I love her just the way she is. If I can leave you with one piece of Mina advice, it would be ‘remind yourself that you are a star’.
PS- I’ll will never look at floating flakes of dust the same way ever again (*shudder*)
***If you visit David Almond’s website, he includes downloadable Reading Notes. The notes offer discussion points, questions, and more. They would be great for teachers and book clubs! I’ve attached the link here.