Mira's Diary: Bombs Over London

Book review by
Andrea Beach, Common Sense Media
Mira's Diary:  Bombs Over London Book Poster Image
Time traveler starts to grow up in engaging installment.

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Kids will learn about London during World War I, America's involvement in the war, and women's struggle for the right to vote, which was coming to a head at that time. They'll meet prominent literary figures of the day Beatrix Potter, H.G. Wells, and Arthur Conan Doyle. Comprehensive bibliography and Web links for kids who want to know more; Author's Note provides more details about the real events and people in the story.

Positive Messages

Continues to point out injustice, such as denying women the vote and the government's harsh treatment of suffragists. But Mira's focus begins to shift from fixing the past to ensuring a bright future by making good choices and taking the right action. The only person who can, and should, determine your destiny is you. The ends don't justify the means, because how you accomplish something is just as important as what you're trying to do. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Mira's smart and a quick learner, and she trusts her instincts. She's determined not to rely on anyone else to have the life she wants. Her father and brother model love, loyalty, and support. Her mother's a mysterious figure, and Mira comes into conflict with her as she realizes they disagree about what needs to be done. Beatrix Potter encourages her to pursue her artistic interests and talents; Arthur Conan Doyle teaches her critical thinking and analyzing situations with a cool head.

Violence

Mentions of the deaths of two of Henry VIII's wives by beheading and of another by childbirth, and of trench warfare and the senseless slaughter of World War I. Force feeding and the injuries of wounded soldiers briefly described. A protest becomes violent with stones breaking windows, and Mira's hit in the knee by a policeman. She sees blood pouring from a head wound and is grabbed and pulled. 

Sex

A suffragist mentions she's helped wives as young as 12 escape bad marriages. Mira encounters her crush Claude/Giovanni, this time as Clark; she feels attracted to him but doesn't act on her feelings.

Language
Consumerism

Harry Potter, BBC TV, McDonald's, Starbucks, Office Depot, and Cold Stone Creamery.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Beer and wine are available for sale on an airplane. Champagne mentioned several times; Mira is given a glass but declines to drink, saying she's too young. Cigarettes in old movies mentioned once. Mira passes a man emitting a "mushroomy-tobacco" smell.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this is the third installment in the Mira's Diary series from Marissa Moss, author of the popular Amelia's Notebook series. Mira's time-traveling adventures continue to teach kids about important events in world history and get them thinking about social-justice issues (this time focusing on women's struggle to get the vote). Mira's in peril a few times: She's hit by a policeman at a protest and grabbed and pulled by the Watcher. She sees blood pouring from a wound, and war injuries are described briefly. A suffragist sheltered wives as young as 12 who were running away from their husbands. Younger readers may find Mira less relatable this time around: The 14-year-old starts to separate emotionally from her mother when she discovers a fundamental disagreement and begins to question her mother's methods and motives.

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What's the story?

Mira's inherited her ability to time travel from her mother and has learned that her mother keeps going back in time to try to prevent something terrible from happening to Mira in the future. This time her mother asks Mira to pass on information that will affect the timing of America's entry into World War I. But should Mira change something that will affect millions of lives on the chance it will save her own?

Is it any good?

History buffs and Sherlock Holmes fans especially will enjoy this time-travel adventure. Younger readers may find Mira less relatable as she starts to separate emotionally from her mother, and excitement takes more of a back seat to Mira's process of discovering what her life and time-travel abilities are all about. But tweens will root for Mira as she uncovers more of the time-travel mystery, struggles to show her independence, and discovers her ability to control her future.

Author Marissa Moss continues to bring pivotal world events to life in an imaginative and lively manner, with lots of telling details and an engaging, believable narrator. She also provides a story that will interest kids as a straight-up, time-travel adventure while providing lots of food for thought to kids who are ready to engage in the larger world.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the right to vote. Why is voting important? Did you know that less than 100 years ago women weren't allowed to vote?

  • How does this book compare with Lost in Paris and Home Sweet Rome? Which is your favorite book in the series so far?

  • Is it OK to destroy works of art and throw stones to get justice from your government? Do you agree with Mira that how you accomplish something is as important as what you accomplish?

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