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Mick Harte Was Here

Book review by
S. K. List, Common Sense Media
Mick Harte Was Here Book Poster Image
Difficult life-death questions are meant for discussion.
Popular with kids

Parents say

age 11+
Based on 3 reviews

Kids say

age 11+
Based on 11 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Positive Messages

The main character humorously describes an incident when she and her brother spelled out a mildly off-color word in wet concrete.


The title character dies from head injuries received in a bike accident, not shown or described. The essence of this book is the examination of a boy's death and its effect, sometimes disturbing, on his sister and parents.


Very brief reference to birth control pills and children being "planned" or "a surprise."


Occasional mild religious-themed swearing in moments of emotional distress.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Mick Harte Was Here deals with the death of a sibling. It is written with simplicity and sensitivity, as young Phoebe tells the story of losing her younger brother, Mick, in a bicycle accident, her feelings during the aftermath of his death, and her re-entry into daily life. Could be helpful for kids experiencing grief.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byReviewer Lynne January 15, 2012

A Sad, Humorous & Very Memorable Book About Choices

This book is a touching, realistic story revealing the importance of choices in life, and the consequences those choices may have, as well as dealing with the d... Continue reading
Adult Written bywestburytf April 9, 2008

A very good book

This book is very good for young students because it deals with a sensitive issue, that is death, in a way that students can cope with the concept. Even though... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written bychularula56 May 10, 2011

this book is very good and sad but age appropriate for children 11+

i think this book is very well thought of but it may disturb some parents with un age appropriate comments. like "i called him the word that you hear on HB... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old April 9, 2008

Great Story!

I first read this book in a reading group at school and I fell in love with it. It is a very sad story but it also talks about the good memories the characters... Continue reading

What's the story?

Phoebe tells the story of her brother Mick's death in a bicycle accident, and its aftermath. Tracing the unpredictable, lonely path a bereaved family travels toward recovery, Barbara Park paints a very individual but ultimately universal portrait of memory and grief with acute insight. Through funny and poignant memories, eighth-grader Phoebe Harte introduces her brother Mick, 10 months younger, and tells the story of his fatal accident. She then describes her reactions and experiences over the ensuing days. She attends his funeral, interment, and memorial service, and gradually is comforted by her best friend, her spiritual intuition, and her family. As she struggles with her feelings, she makes a re-entry into daily life and school, finding setbacks, support, and, finally, stability.

Is it any good?

This book is a demonstration of the devastating power of simplicity. With breathtaking economy and precise strokes, Barbara Park brings Mick Harte and his sister Phoebe to vivid life. And because Park gives Phoebe such a distinct, genuine voice, her reactions are real and familiar. Park moves the reader back and forth, from Mick to his sister, gradually disengaging them, separating the tightly interwoven strands of their lives, until Phoebe can stand alone. The author makes hardly a misstep; all the book's elements are tied together with enormous skill. Even the lesson about wearing bicycle helmets is made so directly and simply that it doesn't seem at all preachy. In fact, when the father wishes he had made Mick wear his, it's one of the book's most moving moments.

Not all young readers will want or be able to handle the questions Park asks. But those who do will find that, with MICK HARTE WAS HERE, "here" is a lasting place in their hearts.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the characters' reactions to losing a loved one. How does Pheobe handle the tragedy? Is her reaction different from her parents'?

Book details

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