What You Need to Know:|
• A captivating story of a young girl’s surprising ability to heal herself, her family and her community.
• This book was nominated for the American Library Association’s Notable Books of 2011.
• The story deals with several substantial issues including Asperger’s Syndrome, a school shooting, the death of a
sibling and a mother lost to cancer.
• The author was inspired to write this book because her daughter has Asperger's.
• Written in the first person, the reader really gets inside the main character’s head.
• Although the healing process is a positive one, the reader must digest a great deal of sadness throughout the book.
• The deaths all take place in the past and there are no gruesome details of what happened.
• Mockingbird can serve as the starting point for great book group and family discussions.
• There are many references to Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird.
Mockingbird is a compelling, somber, enlightening, uplifting and sometimes painful book to read. It takes the reader on an emotional journey as the main character, Caitlin tries to decipher her own feelings and those of the people around her. It is a story of friendship, family relationships and community all told from Caitlin's point of view. The language is expressive and Caitlin's thoughts and feelings are clearly articulated. I think that 5th graders and up, would benefit greatly from reading the story because it will offer them the opportunity to see the world from the point of view of someone who is different. They will also enjoy getting to know Caitlin and may even be amused by her approach to life. Because she looks at emotions in such an analytical way, Caitlin's perspective may also help readers to better understand their own feelings. My main hesitation is that Erskine included too much here. She pulled together two complicated topics - a school shooting and Asperger's Syndrome - that don't necessarily relate to each other, and then mixed in cancer, a dead mother and mean girls, and all of that bundled together may overwhelm some readers.
Caitlin sees the world differently than most because she has Asperger’s Syndrome. As a result, she usually doesn't "get" emotion and has difficulty with social interaction. That's in the best of circumstances. Now, because her brother, Devon, was shot in a local school shooting, she is in the center of a highly intense and volatile emotional storm. Other than her school counselor, Mrs. Brook, she really has no one to guide her through this difficult time. Her mother had passed away from cancer years earlier, her father is suffering because of his loss and the entire community is distraught over what has happened. Caitlin struggles to find "closure" in her brother's death, while also dealing with the typical social conflicts facing all 5th graders. Mrs. Brook helps her manage the healing process, while also encouraging her to explore new friendships. Some of the kids at school are mean to Caitlin and even a teacher ridicules her because she is different. It is really hard for her, but she learns to accept the challenges she faces and confront them with strength and determination. Interestingly, Caitlin figures out a lot on her own and, in her very basic and simple way of looking at life, helps her father and their community to heal as well.
2010, 235 pages
Behavior, Community, Compassion/Empathy, Family Life, Feelings, Friendship, Good Book Club Selection, Illness/Death, Overcoming Fears, Physical/Mental Differences, School, Siblings
• Do you know anyone like Caitlin?
• Does Mrs. Brook “get” Caitlin?
• How is Caitlin different from you and your friends?
• Is Caitlin prepared for the challenges she faces trying to make friends?
• Do you think Erskine’s portrayal of Asperger’s is realistic?
• Why are the other kids so mean to Caitlin? How could they have acted differently?
• Is it good for Caitlin to be in a regular class or would she be better off in a special class or school?
• Why can Caitlin see the way to “closure” when her father cannot?
• How does the school shooting affect the local community?
• If other kids were making fun of someone, would you stick up for them? Include them?
• Will Caitlin and her dad be OK?
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