Top positive review
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A rare book - beautifully written and true to the spirit of home education.
on 7 October 2011
The 2011 Guardian Children's Fiction prize shortlist includes My Name is Mina, by David Almond, a wonderful, poetic story depicting home education.
My Name is Mina is a rare books - beautifully written using language in an almost hypnotic way, quirky and with an instinctive understanding of unschooling/autonomous/informal education.
Written as Mina's diary, it reflects the main character's creativity and curiosity. Mina loves words - the sound of them, their flow and patterns, reflected in the wonderful use of words, fonts and space throughout the book. She has a uncompromising sense of wonder at the world around her - from the blackbird chicks in her tree, to the sheer immensity of the universe.
As a result Mina does not fit in at school. She is unwilling or unable to lose herself and her world of words and ideas in order to meet the requirements of school or fit in with the other children. So her mother takes her out of school to be home educated. The diary tells of her experiences leading up to leaving school, her coming to terms with the loss of her father and dealing with having been a square peg in a round hole, until eventually she comes to a place where she can reconnect with the world again.
The descriptions of the quiet moments of contemplation and the time spent round the kitchen table making and talking with her Mum are something that will strike a chord with many home educators.