Monday, August 03, 2015

Children's Book Review: Mockingbird (Ages 10 and Up)

Mockingbird
Kathryn Erskine

The world can be a confusing place for a kid who's about to start middle school, especially when they have Asperger syndrome. Caitlin has trouble understanding people in social situations. Many of us take it for granted when we effortlessly glean meaning from sarcasm, body language, and facial expressions. Despite her high intelligence and artistic talent, Caitlin has to rely on her big brother, Devon, to translate the people around her. He’s patient, kind, and gives great advice. When he’s killed in a school shooting, Caitlin doesn’t know where to turn to make sense of why this would happen. Why would a kid shoot her brother for no reason at all? How can she navigate the world around her when her only friend and confidante is absent?

From Caitlin’s first-person perspective, readers are present for the aftermath of a tragedy and the search for closure from Caitlin’s unique point of view. With all the hubbub surrounding the release of Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee, I couldn’t help but contribute a book review for a children’s title inspired (loosely) by To Kill a Mockingbird. Caitlin and Devon’s favorite movie is To Kill a Mockingbird, and I thought I detected a few plot points corresponding to the story of Atticus, Scout, and Boo Radley. This book is poignant, funny, and enlightening. It’s a great way for kids and adults to submerge themselves in the mind of someone who views the world in a different way. I would recommend it for young and old, though I think the tragic subject matter and Caitlin’s sophisticated vocabulary would make this title challenging for kids younger than fourth grade. It’s a great reminder that the quirky kid on the bus or the eccentric man next door might have a vast intelligence and simply have an unconventional way of interpreting the world around them.

Mollie McFarland
Springville Road Regional Branch Library

1 comment:

Patty Cummings said...

I will get this one as I have a child on the spectrum. They are too young now to "get this" but this is a great one for the shelf for when the time comes. Right now we are in the stage that has us reading Dr. Jerald Altman's Don't Stick Sticks Up Your Nose! Don't Stuff Stuff In Your Ears! dontstickdontstuff.com is his site. It's a fun read, the kids get a kick out of it and that's a good thing!