Consider the following statistics on Bicycle accidents:
- Bicycle helmets reduce the risk of brain injury in the event of a crash or fall by 90 percent.
- 70-80 percent of all fatal bicycle crashes involve brain injuries.
- Children are less likely to wear helmets than adults.
- A child is four more times likely to be seriously injured in a bicycle crash than to be kidnapped by a stranger.
- May, June, and July have the highest percentage of bicycle related deaths.
Source: Brain Injury Association of Hawaii
Mick Harte Was Here by Barbara Park is the fictional story of a twelve year old boy killed while riding his bicycle. Mick's life, his death, and the effect it had on his family are told in a first person account by his sister Phoebe eight years after the accident. Phoebe was thirteen when Mick died.
Phoebe was a "planned" child. Mick was a "surprise" and delighted in telling how he had managed to outsmart two chemistry majors with birth control pills in making his existence even possible. The potential for havoc during his teenage years was too awesome for Mick to even imagine. Phoebe's and Mick's first devilment occurred when they wrote the "F" word in their neighbor's new driveway. Of course the "R" was turned backwards but it didn't seem to matter that much at the time. Mick especially enjoyed dressing up like historical characters. His favorite was Thomas Crapper, the man who greatly improved the flush toilet. There was also the time in the fifth grade that Mick didn't want to make a Mother's Day card because he wasn't in "the mood" to do it. He was firmly told by his teacher to either get "in the mood" or get an F. Expressing his feelings, Mick wrote:
"Roses are red,
Violets are blue.
I still don't know why
I can't get a tattoo."
Fiction strikes extremely close to truth as Phoebe talks about Mick's death from the viewpoint of a thirteen year old sibling. She talks about hearing the sirens and knowing they were for Mick, searching for an answer as to "where" Mick has gone, and the need to visit the place where he died just so she could feel closer to him. On the way home one day, Phoebe shares when she and her dad talk about "If only"
· If only Phoebe had ridden Mick's bike that day
· If only the truck had been going a little faster or slower
· If only one of Mick's friends had talked to him a little longer
· If Only I Had Made Him Wear His Helmet
An inch of Styrofoam could have saved Mick's life.
Thirty days after his death, Phoebe watches as a group of men pour concrete for some new bleachers at a soccer field. Remembering days gone by, Phoebe seizes a small stick and prints:
MICK HARTE WAS HERE
Memories and names in stone are what we leave behind.
When a library board member asks me to do something I always try my best to comply. However in the case of reading Mick Harte Was Here, I was asked, told twice, by a very determined retired school librarian that I needed to read this book. I started reading the book with my ten year old daughter and finished it without her because I couldn't wait. Mick Harte is an excellent book for both adults and children for a number of reasons. If you or a child you know doesn't wear a helmet while riding a bicycle, please think about the statistics. Unfortunately all of us have or know of someone, who has lost a young person to an accident. I lost a sibling almost 34 years ago and the void still remains. Mick Harte Was Here is a reminder to all of us how quickly life can change forever. Thank you, Kathy Sweat.
Children: All American Girl, by Meg Cabot; Coraline, by Neil Gaiman; Chill Wind, by Janet McDonald; Overnight, Overnight, by Adele Griffin; Wandering Warrior, by Da Chen; Jazmin's Notebook, by Nikki Grimes; Like Sisters on the Homefront, by Rita Williams-Garcia; Tadpole, by Ruth White; Where I'd Like to Be, by Frances O'Roark Dowell; Atalanta and the Arcadian Beast, by Jane Yolen
Fiction: Naked Prey, by John Sandford; Blue Horizon, by Wilbur Smith; Sinister Pig, by Tony Hillerman; Victory, by Stephen Coonts; Ranger's Trail, by Elmber Kelton; Wild Orchids, by Jude Deveraux; I Should Be Extremely Happy in Your Company, by Brian Hall; The Sight, David Clement-Davies; The Hills at Home, Nancy Clark; The Rescue, by Elizabeth Richards
Nonfiction: All Over But the Shoutin', by Rick Bragg; It Pays to Talk, by Carrie Schwab-Pomerantz & Charles Schwab; Unexpected Legacy of Divorce, by Judith Wallerstein; All Corvettes Are Red, by James Schefter; Alaska, by Walter Borneman; Alan Shrugged, by James Tuccille; Kings of Texas, by Don Graham; Dealing With People You Can't Stand, by Rick Brinkman & Rick Kirschner; America's God: From Jonathan Edwards to Abraham Lincoln, by Mark Noll; Adventures With Old Houses, by Richard Jenrette