Who is it for? Parents who need a distraction from their precious full-sized iPads.
What are the benefits? Along with all the benefits of the regular iPad (eg usability, app selection) the size of the mini makes it perfect for, well, mini hands. As in children's hands. Not miniature replicas of hands. The most recent version has the new, crisper Retina display, however buying the previous model (link above) offers huge cost savings.
What’s so awesome about it? Portable! Fun! Easy to use! And oh-so-shiny. Most children are essentially part-magpie.