Review Blog

Dec 07 2011

Mimi and the blue slave by Catherine Bateson

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Woolshed Press, 2010. ISBN 978 1 86471 994 9.
(Ages 10+) Warmly recommended. Death. When Dad dies unexpectedly, Mum and daughter, Mimi are bereft, Mimi turning to her imaginary friend, Ableth, her blue slave for comfort, and Mum taking to her bed. Their secondhand shop downstairs is running out of stock, and people have stopped coming around with Mum giving excuses not to see them. Mimi returns to school, knowing that people will treat her oddly for a while, and is surprised when the one who does not, Fergus, is the by she likes.
But some people do notice Mum is not around nay more and that the shop hours have been reduced and she no longer attends the auctions to buy stock. And Mimi takes action as well, discussing what to do with Ableth and now Fergus. When one of Mum's friends takes her to a course in IT, Mimi insists on being left home alone, but someone steals into their shed, causing fear for both women.
Mum's friend Guy takes Mimi to one of the auctions and there she meets some of the family of buyers who sell on what they buy. They all ask after her mother, and take time out to talk to Mimi about what to do. Mimi has been looking for a dog to protect her when Mum goes out again, and finds one at the auction, the last of the litter of one of Mum's friends.
Gradually Mum recovers from her depression, taking more control over what is happening, with the help of Mimi and her aunts, plus some of the friends, so that their first Christmas without Dad is loving and joyous, thinking about the future and remembering good times in the past.
A charming story, Mimi and the blue slave creeps up on the reader, stealthily showing the situation and its solution but all the while enveloped in the care and love of family and friends.
Fran Knight

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