Summary: MILO is the funny and poignant story, told through text and cartoons, of a 13-year-old boy’s struggle to come to terms with the loss that hit the reset button on his life. Loveable geek Milo Cruikshank finds reasons for frustration at every turn, like people who carve Halloween pumpkins way too soon (the pumpkins just rot and get lopsided) or the fact that the girl of his dreams, Summer, barely acknowledges his existence while next-door neighbor Hilary won't leave him alone. The truth is – ever since Milo's mother died nothing has gone right. Now, instead of the kitchen being full of music, his whole house has been filled with Fog. Nothing’s the same. Not his Dad. Not his sister. And definitely not him. In love with the girl he sneezed on the first day of school and best pals with Marshall, the “One Eyed Jack” of friends, Milo copes with being the new kid (again) as he struggles to survive a school year that is filled with reminders of what his life “used to be." -- Aladdin
I know that I usually write my reviews for children's books as part of my Kid Konnection posts; however, I recently read a book that is so special that I couldn't wait to share it with you! The book I'm so excited about is MILO: STICKY NOTES AND BRAIN FREEZE by Alan Silberberg. I absolutely loved this book, and it's one of those stories that is sure to resonate with kids and adults alike!
MILO is just the perfect book for middle graders -- I really can't rave enough about it. It is primarily a text-driven novel (around 270 pages), but it also has some terrific artwork included. MILO is ideal for those readers who are making the transition to big-time novels, but still want just enough illustrations to make things interesting. It is just the perfect blend of text and pictures, and I think even the most reluctant of readers are going to love Milo's story.
One of the main reasons that kids (and parents) are going to love this book is because it's extremely entertaining. And by entertaining, I mean very, very funny -- some might even say hilarious. I think kids will relate to Milo's antics as he starts a new school and has to make new friends. Some boys might even relate to Milo's crush on a pretty girl. I also think many will enjoy the silly artwork and cartoons. Regardless of how readers relate to Milo and his drawings, I'm pretty sure that they will find themselves laughing a great deal while they read this novel.
Milo is just a fantastic kid, and he's one of the most lovable characters that I've encountered in recent memory. His insights into life are so smart -- actually wise beyond his years, and I appreciated how he adjusted to his new life. His story is both funny and heartwarming, and I'm almost positive that you will fall in love with Milo within the first few pages of this book.
But what really made MILO stand out for me wasn't just the humor or the cute artwork or even Milo's character, it was how much this book touched my heart. As if Milo wasn't dealing with enough change in his young life, he also was trying to accept the loss of his mother. This book was just so honest -- I'm even tearing up as I type this review -- because it touched upon a young boy's pain in such an original way. MILO shows kids that it's acceptable (and healthy) to grieve for someone who has died. And it demonstrates how important it is to keep that person's spirit alive!
I wasn't surprised to find that Alan Silberberg, the author of MILO, based this book on many of his own experiences. When he was nine years old, he lost his mother; and like Milo, no one in his family wanted to talk about her death. He decided to write MILO to help kids who have suffered a loss like his own -- to let them know that they need to grieve and that they aren't alone. Personally, I can't think of a better reason to write a book!
Because MILO does address some difficult issues for tweens, it would make an ideal book for book clubs or even classroom discussions. I was so excited to find that there is already a discussion guide for this novel. The questions not only deal with loss and grief, but they also delve into other pertinent topics that today's kids face like friendships, appearances, insecurities, and acceptance. There are also a few recommended kids' activities which tie into the story. I would love to read and discuss MILO as part of my after-school book club or even our mother-daughter one.
Needless to say, I adored this novel for so many reasons. The balance between humor and poignant moments is perfect! MILO truly is a very special book for anyone who has ever lost someone they love, and I highly recommend it.
Thanks to the publisher for sending me an ARC of this novel.
BBAW Giveaway Alert: To celebrate the 2010 Book Blogger Appreciation Week, I am giving away a brand-new Advanced Reader Copy of MILO by Alan Silberberg.
To enter, just fill out the form below -- that's it! This giveaway will be open until Wednesday, September 22nd at 11:59 p.m. ET, and I will notify the winner the following day. This contest is open internationally! Good luck!