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The Facts and Fictions of Minna Pratt

4.01  ·  Rating details ·  491 ratings  ·  73 reviews
Facts and fictions are different truths. Minna Pratt stares at this message above her mother's typewriter every day and tries to understand it. But how can she, when her mind is already so full? She wishes her mother would ask her normal questions like "How was your day?" instead of "What is the quality of beauty?" She wishes her brother, McGrew, could catch a baseball. Sh ...more
Paperback, 136 pages
Published 1988 by Trumpet Club
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Average rating 4.01  · 
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Deborah O'Carroll
August 2019
Still love this book. It makes me smile. ^_^

Original Review


This one’s weird because it’s modern and I like it. It’s by the author of Sarah, Plain and Tall, and I randomly picked it up at a library sale because it looked interesting. I don’t know, there’s just this really neat feel to the story and it’s about a girl who plays cello and her mom’s a writer, and a boy who likes frogs and is from a rich family and… I don’t know that
Jan 13, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Aldean by: Anita
This book was a test. The day after our first date my now-wife dropped by with this book, one of her absolute favorites, for me to read and discuss. I was so terrified of missing some key point she was trying to make that I read through it in one sitting and then wrote a two-page book report as evidence of my earnest intentions if nothing else. But I got it right, evidently, because she kept me around.

A greatly charming little story of gaining confidence in who you are. I will continue to highly
Sep 09, 2007 rated it it was amazing
i have never met any children who act as whimsical and adorably intelligent as patricia maclachlan's characters, but even with their poetic dialogue they're very real somehow. i'm not sure how she does it.

minna is eleven, plays the cello, adores her younger brother mcgrew and wishes her novelist mother would ask her the right questions. when lucas ellerbee, violist, frog-lover, and cutie patootie, joins her chamber quartet, minna discovers something else she wants: a vibrato.

(i think this is w
Sep 09, 2010 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Everyone
Recommended to Geizy by: Breyanni
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dalton Fitzgerald
Sep 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This book has a very rare and difficult quality of perfection about it which renders it tricky to compare with other books of any kind. The rarified atmosphere it breathes reminds me strongly of the works of A. A. Milne, but the setting and authorial voice has (to my recollection) more of New England than Old. The plot is simple, the writing flawlessly economical; it draws the ear of the reader the way a Japanese painting draws the eye. Perhaps it is the sort of book Hemingway would have written ...more
Sep 17, 2011 rated it it was ok
"There is room for perfection in an imperfect world."

—Imelda, The Facts and Fictions of Minna Pratt, P. 86

If Patricia MacLachlan's name weren't printed on the cover of this book, I can't say that I'd have been likely to be able to identify her as the author just from the writing. I'm used to a slightly more rhythmic sensation to the words she chooses, the gentle waves of her lovely descriptions creating a quiet harmony even when they're describing just mundane, everyday things, or s
Apr 01, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: teen
read this years ago, literally about 15 years ago, and it stayed on my mind...couldn't remember title for life of me, but "that vibrato book" would float onto the surface of my brain OFTEN. and then I found it, reread it, and see why. I'll go with luminous. something about the present-tense narration, or tiny details, or slow movement, or sense of waiting for something to happen. it sort of glows with all that. ...more
Apr 29, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone
I first read this book in perhaps the third or fourth grade, and have read it possibly 10+ times since. From the very first time that I picked up The Facts and Fictions of Minna Pratt, I fell in love with it. The entire book just has a melodic quality that sucks you in. I cannot begin to understand what it is in particular that makes me love this book; it is just of such a quality that it stays with you for long after you've put it down.

The characters in it are all unique, each with their own q
Jan 18, 2010 rated it liked it
This was a perfectly lovely children's book about an 11 year old girl who longs for vibrato in her cello playing, has a crush on a boy, and doesn't feel understood by her parents. Minna felt very real to me, although the side characters were not very developed and I felt like her parents were gratuitously wacky. Overall, it was a very nice book. I appreciated that it didn't feel it needed to go into histrionics of poverty, death, or any other kind of trauma to be relevant.

This is definitely a bo
Kaitlyn Ravlin
Nov 20, 2012 rated it liked it
Really good book although not usually my type of book it was very interesting
Sep 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This is one of my favorite children's books. Patricia MacLachlan's prose is poetry and Minna, herself, is simply lovely. ...more
Kristin Boldon
Feb 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Read this aloud to my 12 and almost-10yo boys. We all loved it. So funny, sweet, and true. Plus frogs! Also, this line: "Shiny teeth are highly valued in the beaver community." ...more
Mimi 'Pans' Herondale
Jan 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: contemporary
Real rating: 3.5 stars

This book was enjoyable, but not amazing.
Mary (booksandpizza)
I’m slowly making my way through my childhood favorites and re-reading all of them. This was nice but nothing spectacular.
Sarah B
Dec 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
To my surprise I found myself chuckling at parts of this story. I had not expected that at all as most of it is kind of serious. It's about a young girl who plays a string instrument and she's waiting for her vibrato to come to her. She thinks her family is odd and thinks her friend's family is better. But he likes her family better. I had to laugh at the basket of socks that day there for months, ignored, with no matchers in the basket at all. And at the many frogs watching Minna's mother type ...more
Alex Telander
Feb 24, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Minna Pratt lives in a very interesting world, where each day she lives it to the fullest. She is an improving cello player who has lessons every day and should be practicing every day – though she doesn’t. She is in search of her vibrato, as she prays to God and Mozart and anyone else she thinks who might be able to help her get it. The book is filled with interesting characters, like her brother McGrew who has a very entertaining personality, and then there’s Lucas, the handsome boy who seems ...more
Davida "Davi"
Apr 24, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: seriously - almost anyone, except people who don't want to understand others.
Recommended to Davida "Davi" by: The Library or possibly my mom.
I was thinking about this book today -- I really like this book because of the families in it. In the book, the girl is pre- or early adolescent and very embarrassed by her family, who loves her, and whom she loves. I remember being able to identify with the mom, who is creative and not neat and watches soap operas, and her mom and dad still kiss in public. So the girl, Minna, is trying to develop her cello skills and at her music lessons she meets a boy who is richer and whose family is more di ...more
Andrew Foster
Mar 26, 2012 rated it liked it
Grade Level: 6th to 8th

This book follows 11 year old Minna Pratt. She is a musician that seems to not understand her family dynamic. In the story, she meets a boy named Lucas and falls in love. Throughout the story she struggles with how her family is and how Lucas's family is, making many comparisons. Overall, she learns that her family is just as normal. There are so humorous parts that keep the reader interested.

I could see this book being used in conjunction with a music lesson. Learning the
Apr 05, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: children-s
I liked this book in a lot of ways. It was fanciful, but down to earth. It was genuinely about a kid, but had a lot of stuff in it that would speak more to adults. It was also a difficult theme--the atmospheres parents create in their homes have a big influence on the lives of their kids, and unusual backgrounds can mean a lot of culture shock.
I liked it. But I didn't love it. Something about it felt a little too weird---like Patricia MachLachlan was trying to do something and couldn't quite ma
May 01, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: kidbooks
This was one of my favorite books to re-read as a kid. The characters are so wonderfully quirky! I was thinking about it the other day, so i ordered a few copies for the classroom. I've never read anything else by MacLachlan, but I still wonder if she based the character of the novelist-mother on herself. The scene that stands out most in my memory is the one where Minna is standing in her front yard, surrounded by people kissing: her parents started, and then her brother and his friend Emily Pa ...more
Isiree Pido
Dec 19, 2011 rated it liked it
I have read the book last couple of months or years ago but it still remains one of my favorites.

Being the type of person that is >…< typically closet hopeless romantic, I rarely find it enjoyable reading these kinds of tales but this one stands out.
Mainly because there is uncorrupted innocence and quirkiness of the characters. Especially the writer mom.

unobstructive and unique plot that is suited for mainly the tweens who loves mozart or music for that matter and finding yourself somewhere :)
Feb 18, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: kiddie-lit
An aspiring cellist, Minna Pratt wishes for nothing more than to develop her vibrato, especially with the arrival of new student Lucas. While she loves her family, Minna often feels that her distracted, writer mother and psychologist father do not understand or really listen to her. As she gets to know Lucas and his family, she develops a greater appreciation for her own.
A coming of age story, full of memorable characters, this book would be good for young musicians with experiences they can r
Jul 19, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Reading this book I felt like it was-in some way- describing my life. I got this book back in third grade and it's been sitting on my bookshelf- what a waste! this book was just so excellent,the music theme wasn't forced at all. The whole flow of the book felt natural. Really, I can't tell you how awesome it was, you have to read it. I love how it's a coming-of-age story but Music is all part of her growing older, and it was funny too! I think this is proof that, sometimes, the right book finds ...more
Again, this is a book handed to me by my daughter, written by her favorite author, Patricia MacLachlan. The string players, the frogs, the different parents, and children, the description of facts and fictions. Lovely. I don't play strings but my children do, so I appreciated the understanding of these instruments this author has and I learned from her. I am consistently amazed and fascinated and even sometimes a little irritated by Patricia's ability to make me feel so deeply during her books, ...more
Dec 29, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: jr-hi
I really liked this musical story. For impressionable youth and discerning adults, there is talk of; gargoyle (statues), reincarnation, love at age 11, fiction as a different truth, and fortune telling revealing a next relationship. These were bothersome to me coming from this author. However, knowing the difference between fact and fiction; right and wrong, truth and lies, I could enjoy the story. I also learned some interesting words like: rebarbative, bilious, detritus, sapient, cachinnate an ...more
Apr 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
If you are a musician at heart and feel your struggles this is a connection.Minna thinks a her mom is very eccentric and is not normal and cannot ask Minna some normal and regular questions. When,she meets Lucas and is accepted for an opportunity at a completion she realizes to except her families eccentricities. Minna is a role model for many kids and I am sure you will somehow relate.This is my favorite book right now.
Nov 29, 2010 rated it it was amazing
What an incredibly cute book. One of my friends recommended it as one of her favorite books ever, and I can see why. The main character, Minna Pratt, is dynamic and interesting, with so many wonderful quirks. The book is so descriptive, I could see it unfolding before my eyes. It's a quick read, and good for a pick-me-up if you just need something uplifting. ...more
Jul 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Minna wishes for many things. She wishes she understood the quote taped above her mother's typewriter: "Fact and fiction are different truths," She wishes her mother would stop writing long enough to really listen to her. She wishes her house were peaceful and orderly like her friend Lucas's. Most of all, she wishes she could find a vibrato on her cello and play Mozart the... ...more
Sanjana Rajagopal
Jul 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I read this book as a 3rd or 4th grader but I'm reading it as a senior and finding that it is still one of my favorite books of all time because of the reflective, pretty prose. I also love how the author doesn't dumb down Minna's thoughts, because as a twelve year old, I was just as reflective as Minna.

And hell yes, I ship Minna/Lucas.
Lizmary Marquez
Jun 05, 2015 rated it really liked it
I think this book was funny. Why because in the story Minna does a funny movement . For example in the story Minna does a move that she almst fell . I also think this book is interesting , because they give every little detail so you can imagine the what is going on.I also liked this because its doesn't tell boring secenes , it tells you funny and interesting scenes ...more
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Patricia MacLachlan was born on the prairie, and to this day carries a small bag of prairie dirt with her wherever she goes to remind her of what she knew first. She is the author of many well-loved novels and picture books, including Sarah, Plain and Tall, winner of the Newbery Medal; its sequels, Skylark and Caleb's Story; and Three Names, illustrated by Mike Wimmer. She lives in western Massach ...more

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“Fact and fiction are different truths.” 11 likes
“Melinda Pratt rides city bus number twelve to her cello lesson, wearing her mother's jean jacket and only one sock. Hallo, world, says Minna. Minna often addresses the world, sometimes silently, sometimes out loud. Bus number twelve is her favorite place for watching, inside and out. The bus passes cars and bicycles and people walking dogs. It passes store windows, and every so often Minna sees her face reflection, two dark eyes in a face as pale as a winter dawn. There are fourteen people on the bus today. Minna stands up to count them. She likes to count people, telephone poles, hats, umbrellas, and, lately, earrings. One girl, sitting directly in front of Minna, has seven earrings, five in one ear. She has wisps of dyed green hair that lie like forsythia buds against her neck.

There are, Minna knows, a king, a past president of the United States, and a beauty queen on the bus. Minna can tell by looking. The king yawns and scratches his ear with his little finger. Scratches, not picks. The beauty queen sleeps, her mouth open, her hair the color of tomatoes not yet ripe. The past preside of the United States reads Teen Love and Body Builder's Annual.

Next to Minna, leaning against the seat, is her cello in its zippered canvas case. Next to her cello is her younger brother, McGrew, who is humming. McGrew always hums. Sometimes he hums sentences, though most often it comes out like singing. McGrew's teachers do not enjoy McGrew answering questions in hums or song. Neither does the school principal, Mr. Ripley. McGrew spends lots of time sitting on the bench outside Mr. Ripley's office, humming.

Today McGrew is humming the newspaper. First the headlines, then the sports section, then the comics. McGrew only laughs at the headlines.

Minna smiles at her brother. He is small and stocky and compact like a suitcase. Minna loves him. McGrew always tells the truth, even when he shouldn't. He is kind. And he lends Minna money from the coffee jar he keeps beneath his mattress.

Minna looks out the bus window and thinks about her life. Her one life. She likes artichokes and blue fingernail polish and Mozart played too fast. She loves baseball, and the month of March because no one else much likes March, and every shade of brown she has ever seen. But this is only one life. Someday, she knows, she will have another life. A better one. McGrew knows this, too. McGrew is ten years old. He knows nearly everything. He knows, for instance, that his older sister, Minna Pratt, age eleven, is sitting patiently next to her cello waiting to be a woman.”
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