Click to order now!Mockingbird

Mockingbirdby Kathryn Erskine

An important book for today, author Kathryn Erskine succeeds at addressing two important topics: a community rocked by a senseless act of violence at a middle school, and how a girl with Asberger’s syndrome struggles to understand her brother’s death.

Caitlin is a bright fifth grader and a talented artist. She also has Asberger’s syndrome and lives by her own set of rules. Her older brother, Devon, always helped her get by. But a middle-school shooting took his life. Now she has only her widowed father to rely on, and he has problems — and grief — of his own. Can a wise school counselor help Caitlin reach out to a world she’s never truly understood? With Devon gone, will she have the courage to live fully on her own? How will she learn the lessons that get her through each day?

This surprising story brings us close to a young girl eager to break through to understanding when she is surrounded by confusion and misunderstanding. Her brother’s death forces Caitlin to extend beyond her preferred solitude to defy her fear and reluctance in her discovery of the meaning of friendship and empathy.

Caitlin’s thought processes, including her own unique brand of logic, are the star of this breathtakingly original novel about the differences that make us who we are. Along the way we are confronted with the issues that shake each community and indeed a nation when unthinkable acts of violence take the lives of innocent loved ones.

Why write this book? As written in Mockingbird, “As a resident of Virginia, Kathryn Erskine was deeply affected by the 2007 shooings at Virginia Tech. In the aftermath of this tragedy, Kathrym was driven to understand how community and family—particularly families with special needs children—death with this violent event, and how our lives might be differet if we understood each other better. In writing Mockingbird and telling the story of Caitlin, a young girl with Asberger’s syndrome, she walked into the fragile world herself, and like Caitlin, offers us something “good and strong and beautiful.”

Service Learning Ideas: Safe and Strong Communities, Special Needs and Disabilities, Social Change   We have all read of gun violence in schools. This is a book that allows us to talk about these events. The author’s choice of presenting what happened through the lens of a child with Asberger’s syndrome also helps us to consider the difficulties in understanding these terrible events. By including this book, I hope readers will think about ways to work in their communities and with national efforts to find and support safe and responsible policies and laws that protect our children families, and neighbors. Also, through understanding of the Autism spectrum, including Asberger’s syndrome, we recognize how to interact, support  and establish meaningful relationships.

Reviews 

“A strong and complex character study.” –Horn Book

“This heartbreaking story is delivered in the straightforward, often funny voice of a fifth-grade girl with Asperger’s Syndrome.” –Kirkus, starred review

“This is…a valuable book.” –School Library Journal

“Erskine works in powerful imagery throughout.” –Publishers Weekly, starred review

237 pages Grades 4 and up

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