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Kid Konnection: The Absolute Value of Mike

July 23, 2011

Mike’s dad is an engineering professor and a mathematical genius.  When he has to go to Romania for the summer, he ships Mike off to rural Pennsylvania to stay with a great-aunt and great-uncle he’s never met, so Mike can help them with an engineering project.  It turns out the engineering project was a misunderstanding, which is just as well, because Mike has a math learning disability.  The small town where Mike’s great-aunt and great-uncle live has seen better days, but the people there are trying to rally around one of their own.  Mike becomes involved and discovers his true strengths.

The Absolute Value of Mike by Kathryn Erskine is full of quirky characters and is loads of fun, but it’s a book you definitely have to suspend disbelief to enjoy.  Mike is fourteen and has been pretty much taking care of his dad since his mom died five years ago.  Mike is such a good kid and I just loved him.  He does what he can for his dad and doesn’t want to let him down, so he keeps his math disability secret.  He knows what his dad expects of him and is worried that he can’t live up to it.  Thankfully, the visit with his relatives makes him realize his strengths and gives him the courage to tell his dad.

All of the characters in this book are quirky – some outrageously so, but that’s part of what makes the book so much fun.  Most people know someone who is at least a little bit like some of them.  The little town of Donover, Pennsylvania was a delight as well – the people there know what being a good neighbor is all about.

I very much enjoyed The Absolute Value of Mike and think the target audience of 9 to 12 year olds will enjoy it even more than I did.   Hopefully it will help them realize the value of being true to themselves.  This is a book that should appeal to boys and girls equally.

For more children’s books reviews, go to Booking Mama’s feature, Kid Konnection. If you’d like to participate in Kid Konnection and share a post about anything related to children’s books (picture, middle grade, or young adult) from the past week,  leave a comment as well as a link on her site.

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14 Comments leave one →
  1. Veens permalink
    July 23, 2011 5:43 am

    This sounds like a very cool book. I think I will love it too…

  2. July 23, 2011 6:30 am

    This sounds great — and I love books that take place in Pennsylvania. I’ll have to see if my library has a copy.

  3. July 23, 2011 6:57 am

    Its rare these days to find a good book that appeals to that age boy that conveys a good message, and doesn’t involve supernatural elements — just real people.

  4. July 23, 2011 8:43 am

    I’m hoping there are no vampires. Sounds good.

  5. July 23, 2011 8:52 am

    I like the sound of this! The title is totally geeking me out!

  6. July 23, 2011 9:21 am

    This sounds very cute. And I like the fact that it would appeal across genders.

  7. July 23, 2011 10:36 am

    This sounds terrific. I wonder where Donavan is — we have lots of relatives in rural PA!

  8. July 23, 2011 10:57 am

    I really loved this book, too!

  9. July 23, 2011 11:03 am

    I think that I could suspend my sense of disbelief for this one, and it sounds like you had a wonderful time with it. I will have to see if this one is available at the bookstore the next time I am there. It seems that this one might be a good crossover for my daughter and my son (who is notoriously hard to buy for).

  10. July 24, 2011 8:28 am

    Hi Kathy,

    Never having had any children, I had never given much thought to reading children’s or YA books, until I was contacted by a small new publisher, asking if I would like a copy of their first published novel, which happened to be a book for 8-12 year old girls.

    I had great fun reading it and reminicsing about the stories I had read in my childhood days.

    I was pleased to see the reference to Booking Mama’s blog, with its Kids Konnection link, which I stopped by to look at. I shall definitely be placing a link to my review post when it’s done, so thanks for the recommendation and a great review.

  11. July 24, 2011 9:07 am

    sounds like something I should add to the book bag.

    i’ll see if my little one would like this one – call it a lesson for life.

  12. July 24, 2011 9:32 am

    Mike seems like a great character! Though I don’t read children’s books, I am tempted to try this one. Thanks for the review!

  13. July 24, 2011 4:30 pm

    Sounds like a neat book! I need to find one for my granddaughter! She’s not quite 9 yet but she loves to read. Every time she visits she heads for my library.

  14. July 25, 2011 8:21 pm

    Second great review I’ve read of this title. Will be adding it to my shelves!!

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