A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that there is nothing of concern in this book. On the contrary, it's full of love and kindness -- all of it believable.
What's the story?
Minna is growing up and has a wonderful assortment of oddball friends and relatives, blithe spirits all, who sometimes seem to her to move through the world with more ease and confidence than she can muster. Her brother, McGrew, loves lurid headlines, and sings most of the time, much to the annoyance of his teachers. His best friend is Emily Parmalee, the catcher on his baseball team, who likes to wear feather earrings.
Minna loves Mozart and the cello, and in her music class is a boy named Lucas, who has a vibrato, collects frogs, and has, so she thinks, the perfect family. Her mother is a writer who believes that \"fact and fiction are different truths.\" She has a music teacher named Porch (called by McGrew \"Old Back\") who calls the chamber group \"mass assembled sound\". In this book even the taxi driver can end up fixing the kitchen sink and demonstrating a new way to make coffee.
Is it any good?
Patricia MacLachlan's stories are a rarity in today's children's books: simple, gentle tales of children who manage to be reasonably nice kids without being insipid. This is an amazingly delightful book, a book that makes you smile all through it, a book that makes you want to know all of the characters in real life.
MacLachlan doesn't seem to believe in villains, and her books, especially this one, will make you wonder why anyone ever thought they were necessary. In the world of Minna Pratt, people can be good and kind and thoughtful and still, amazingly, likable and real and fascinating. The book is wonderful for all children who can enjoy a story without a lot of action and adventure, but for budding musicians it will be a special treat.