Us Minus Mum by Heather Butler

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Us Minus Mum by Heather Butler

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Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: Lovely story about coming to terms with grief. Perfectly observed and joyful and sad in equal measure.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 304 Date: February 2014
Publisher: Little, Brown
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 0349124078

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Longlisted for the 2015 CILIP Carnegie Medal

George likes FACTS. He collects definitions. When he writes things down, he makes his favourite words stand out by 'bolding or CAPITALISING or italicising them. He loves school but he hates Carl Worthington who is disruptive and a bully. He loves his little brother Theo but can't help wishing he wasn't quite such a pain. His favourite game is the one in which he and Mum share random facts with one another. Actually, Mum is George's favourite person in the whole world. Even more than best friend, Dermo, or beloved but scruffy dog, Goffo.

But Mum is ill. Very ill. And suddenly, smiles seem hard to come by in George's life...

Us Minus Mum is completely gorgeous. It's beautifully observed and I fell in love with narrator George. George is a good kind of boy. He likes the certainty of rules and rarely breaks them. People who do break the rules are a sore trial to him. This doesn't just include the class bully, it also includes younger brother Theo, who is chalk to George's cheese - Theo is cheeky, busy, and cheerfully naughty at times. George is a bright child so he knows that something is wrong at home but he is also young, so he doesn't figure out quite what it is. And he suffers almost as much from not knowing what it is as he does when the truth comes out. Us Minus Mum is very clear on being honest with children. We really should be, you know.

There are so many perfect little details that made me smile - George and his best friend secure enough in their friendship to be open about still taking a best cuddly toy to bed; George feeling the green-eyed monster of jealousy when Theo does something wrong but still gets a lap cuddle from Dad, the worthy essay-come-statement you have to write when you've stepped out of line at school. And those aren't even the funny bits! The funny bits are hilarious! Mostly, these revolve around the family dog and a pet talent show and I won't spoil them. But I will say that farts will be dubbed FFFFOURTEENS chez Murphy from now on and, I hope, forever.

Us Minus Mum is a perfectly-judged, wonderfully-observed story of coming to terms with the loss of a parent and coping with grief. It's also a funny and delightful portrait of a family that is probably different from your family, but just like it, too. I loved it and heartily recommend it to every single reader of 9 and up.

If you like the look of Us Minus Mum, you might also enjoy A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness and My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece by Annabel Pitcher.

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Buy Us Minus Mum by Heather Butler at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Us Minus Mum by Heather Butler at Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy Us Minus Mum by Heather Butler at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Us Minus Mum by Heather Butler at

Booklists.jpg Us Minus Mum by Heather Butler is in the Top Ten Books for Confident Readers 2014.


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