by David Almond, published 2011
“My name is Mina and I love the night. Anything seems possible at night when the rest of the world has gone to sleep.”
There were so many quotable lines in this children’s book, that I gave up choosing and took what was on the cover. It’s my way of saying, please do read this book, and share it with children you love. I don’t give stars to books, but if I did, this children’s book would be five stars. It makes such a compelling statement, much needed today, that children need an environment where creativity and exploration can flourish. In some ways, the book is an homage to the miracle of daily life, and how much we can learn simply by being present.
There are a few spectacular things that stood out for me in this story. The first is the absolute joy and love of playing with language- big words, small words, big print, small print, poetry, science, all mixed together. It almost breathes “Love to write.” It also pays homage to nature – baby owls, baby crows, insects, cats, all things alive and inhabiting our planet. And finally, it offers an ideal home setting – a mother who is committed to her daughter, and stands up for the unleashing of a creative and exploratory mind.
For my Waldorf friends, I believe this children’s book implicitly makes the case for Steiner’s principles of education, which is to let the children be drawn, rather than led, to insights, information, and discovery. While the book makes a great case for quality homeschooling, it is also really making the case for creative schools in general.
Only at the end of reading this, did I discover that it was written as a “prequel” to Skellig, which I had never read. I subsequently read Skellig, and feel that the order is incorrect. This book must be read first, and in my opinion, it is actually as good perhaps better, than Skellig. You decide for yourself.