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Kid Konnection: Mockingbird

July 31, 2010

Caitlin is a fifth grader with Asperger syndrome.  Her mother died several years ago and the one person who understood and helped her the most  (her older brother Devon) has just been killed in a school shooting.  Caitlin’s father cries a lot but Caitlin doesn’t really know how to express emotions, so she doesn’t know how to help him or herself.

Mrs. Brook, the school counselor, is working with Caitlin – helping her with social skills so that she can make friends.  Things seem to be going well, Caitlin is making some progress, and after one of their discussions, she comes up with an idea that might just help her, her dad and the whole community.

Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine is an emotional YA book about love, acceptance,  recovering from tragedy, dealing with special needs and so much more.  It’s told from the perspective of Caitlin, and I’m not sure how accurate the portrayal of Asperger’s is, but it felt real to me.  Caitlin is such a wonderful character.  She doesn’t understand a lot of the ways of the world, but she is earnest and honest and works harder than most people.  She has lots of talents, but has trouble socializing.  She misses her brother so much, but doesn’t know how to express her grief.

As I read this book, I did have to adjust to the fact that the dialogue is in italics rather than quotation marks.  I did finally adapt, but it took me a little while.  I’m not sure if this is a new trend, but I seem to be seeing it more and more lately.  I found Mockingbird to be a quick and emotional read and I teared up several times as I read it.  The ending was a little too pat for me, but I think it will probably appeal to the intended YA audience.  Overall, I’d say this is a worthwhile and thought-provoking book.

For more children’s books reviews, go to Booking Mama’s feature, Kid Konnection. If you’d like to participate in Kid Konnection and share a post about anything related to children’s books (picture, middle grade, or young adult) from the past week,  leave a comment as well as a link on her site.

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28 Comments leave one →
  1. July 31, 2010 7:10 am

    I’ve seen this book, Mockingbird, around on different sites. I bet you did tear up. It’s so sad. Poor Caitlin not knowing how to handle her emotions.

  2. July 31, 2010 7:17 am

    Oh ugh. I hate creative punctuation. But despite that, I like the sound of this one. I have a friend who has a child with Asperger and both the challenges and the rewards are great.

  3. July 31, 2010 7:30 am

    The cover is so sweet. It sounds like a good YA read.

  4. July 31, 2010 7:43 am

    Sounds like an interesting read. I can tell from your review (which I enjoyed, BTW) that I’d have to have a box of tissue handy.

    Thoughts in Progress

  5. July 31, 2010 7:46 am

    This does sound like an emotional book! I have seen a lot of reviews for it lately and it does sound like one that young girls would enjoy!

  6. July 31, 2010 8:28 am

    There are more and more books out there about Aspergers, and I think that is wonderful, for both adults and kids who are touched by the disease.

  7. July 31, 2010 8:35 am

    I keep hearing that this one is really great. I don’t have it yet but think I should invest in it.

  8. July 31, 2010 10:23 am

    I’m not sure what the deal is on italics for all of the dialogue…that would take me a bit to get used to as well. I will proudly admit that I tear up easily, so I expect to keep a box of tissue nearby for this one as well…

  9. July 31, 2010 11:02 am

    Seems exactly like my kind of book. Adding it to my wish list.

  10. July 31, 2010 12:01 pm

    I’ve started this twice and then stopped. It just hasn’t grabbed me. But I guess I should try again!

  11. July 31, 2010 1:43 pm

    Thanks for the review

  12. July 31, 2010 1:57 pm

    I recently read a book where the dialogue was in italics. At first it stopped me, but I got used to it. I thought it was because the book was written by an author outside the U.S. and translated. I rather hope it’s not a growing trend.

    Straight From Hel

  13. July 31, 2010 2:09 pm

    I’ve noticed that pat endings don’t bother me as much with YA books. This sounds like a good one!

  14. July 31, 2010 3:12 pm

    Terrific review, Kathy. I don’t read that many YA books, but I usually enjoy the ones I do pick up and read.

    Have a great weekend. 🙂

  15. July 31, 2010 3:30 pm

    I find italics so distracting that I won’t even pick up a book without quotation marks anymore. I’m glad to know I’m not the only one bothered by this.

    But that issue aside, it sounds like the book addresses important and highly emotional issues in a good way. I enjoyed your review, Kathy!

  16. July 31, 2010 3:55 pm

    I’ve been seeing this book around and am glad this one is worth reading. The title almost always makes me think of the Hunger Games series.

    What do you think is the significance of the title Mockingbird in this book?

  17. August 1, 2010 12:21 am

    I’m interested in learning a little more about Asperger’s Syndrome, and this seems like it would be an interesting way to do it. Have you read THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHTTIME? Is it similar to this one in it’s insights into a disorder?

    Non-standard formatting does bug me though. So, thanks for the heads up.

  18. August 1, 2010 3:03 am

    This sounds really good. It almost sounds like Mockingjay and at first I thought it’s To Kill A Mockingbird! But I love it ;p

  19. August 1, 2010 10:17 am

    I grabbed a galley of this book from work a while back but have not yet read it. I’m glad to see that it’s worthwhile.

  20. August 1, 2010 12:50 pm

    Great review. I have Mockingbird in my TBR pile now. I’m hoping to give it a try though I have no idea if the dialogue part is going to bother me. Have a great Sunday!

  21. August 1, 2010 1:28 pm

    Will jot this one down also for myself & kids to read and learn more on Asperger’s Syndrome through Caitlin’s eyes. The boys may not like the teary bit but rest assured I’ll have my tissue box ready at all times.

  22. August 1, 2010 1:38 pm

    Glad you read this one! I really enjoyed it, especially since it gives the female perspective of Asperger’s which is quite different than the male. I gave it a full 5 rating and wish it would receive more exposure. So thanks for getting the word out on this one!

    My review:

    Sandy – as a person with Asperger’s, I’d just like to mention that AS not a “disease”. Asperger’s is a neurological disorder, a brain wiring issue. It is not something to be cured; it’s simply a state of being. Just trying to shed some light. 🙂

  23. August 1, 2010 4:58 pm

    I have heard of Asperger syndrome but I think this is the first time I’ve heard of a main character with it. Sounds like an interesting read.

  24. August 1, 2010 8:26 pm

    Oh my, this does sound like a sad book, but also interesting. I bet it would be something that my daughter would like, and perhaps I could read it as well so we could talk about it. Thanks for the perceptive review. I am going to have to think about adding this one to our summer list, though summer is just about over now!

  25. August 1, 2010 10:57 pm

    I’m very interested in asperger’s and would love to read fictional takes of it. sounds like an emotional read. nice review.

  26. August 1, 2010 11:20 pm

    Sounds good to me. I think I do not have issues with italics 🙂

  27. August 4, 2010 8:08 pm

    This one sounds really good. I had just finished a YA book and it is also an emotional read. I’m not sure if you’ve read IF YOU COME SOFTLY by Jacqueline Woodson. It’s excellent. I cried so much last night and every time I think about what happened, I tear up all over again.

  28. August 15, 2010 3:45 pm

    I’ve got this one on my wish list to read as I’ve read some good reviews. It’s such an important topic to address in YA & Adult fiction as there is an autism epidemic with so many children affected by this disorder. I just hope that they accurately portray Aspergers as that could be misleading.

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