cover image Mini Mia and Her Darling Uncle

Mini Mia and Her Darling Uncle

Pija Lindenbaum, Author, Elisabeth Kallick Dyssegaard, Translator , trans. by Elisabeth Kallick Dyssegaard. R&S $16 (40p) ISBN 978-91-29-66734-9

It's clear (to adults, anyway) that the “darling uncle” of this Swedish title is a gay man, but Lindenbaum (When Owen's Mom Breathed Fire ) focuses not on his identity but on his niece Ella's resentment of his new partner. The most charismatic relative in her otherwise plain-vanilla family, Uncle Tommy calls Ella “Mini Mia” as a tribute to her devotion to soccer star Mia Hamm, dyes her hair a different color every day and takes her to the opera; at other times, she says fondly, they “just stay home and play dead.” When Fergus appears one day in Tommy's kitchen and starts tagging along on special uncle-niece outings, Mini Mia reacts with increasing ire, pouring sugar on Fergus's sneakers and soaking the toilet paper in the bathroom. “I'm never going to hang out with Tommy again,” Mini Mia says, sulking in bed. “I'm just going to lie here. Bored stiff. Forever.” Lindenbaum paints Uncle Tommy's fabulous shirts and retro furniture with verve, and her pacing is sure as she sees Mini Mia's struggle through to its resolution. The emotions stay true, and by the denouement Mini Mia's wrath has been reconciled, wordlessly and authentically: the parting vignette shows the three sitting companionably on Tommy's couch. Ages 4-8. (Sept.)