Sunday, May 1, 2011


Erskine, K. (2010). Mockingbird. New York, NY: Scholastic, Inc.

Plot Summary:
Caitlin's family is no stranger to tragedy. Her mother died of cancer a few years ago and her brother was recently shot and killed in a shooting at his middle school. All who is left is Caitlin and her dad. Caitlin has Asberger's and depended on her older brother, Devon, to help her know what is right and wrong and to be her only friend. Mrs. Brooks, Caitlin's counselor at school, helps Caitlin learn about emotions and feelings and how to recognize them in other people. She also teaches her about manners and making friends. These are all concepts that Caitlin has a hard time learning and struggles with throughout the book. She eventually befriends Michael, a first grader whose mother was a teacher killed in the middle school shooting. This friendship helps Caitlin to work on feeling empathy for others and normal interactions between friends. Caitlin and her father are still struggling tremendously with Devon's death and Caitlin decides she needs closure. She searches throughout the book for the one thing that will give her some closure and realizes it's been under her nose the whole time. She persuades her dad to help her finish a chest Devon was making as a project to make Eagle Scout. It is through the completion of this project with her dad which begins to heal her family.

This is a great book. The style in which it is written, with Caitlin as narrator, is pretty incredible. It really helps to put you in the mind of someone with Asberger's with the capitalization of certain letters for emphasis and the italicization of dialog versus thoughts. It was pretty tragic though, and I'm starting to definitely see a pattern with all of the award winning tween books. Caitlin's mother died of cancer, her brother was killed in a school shooting, and she had Asberger's. But, the book is very well written and deals with the struggle of someone with Asberger's working her way through all of these tragic events in her life and dealings with feelings and emotions of herself and those around her. What was so nice about the book was that Caitlin's outbursts and over sharing of the things she is learning about empathy, friendships, and closure really help to educate those around her, especially her dad who is struggling tremendously throughout the book.

realistic fiction

Reading Level:
Ages 9 - 12

loss, Asberger's, siblings, friendships, cancer, school shootings

National Book Award Winner

Character Names/Descriptions:
Caitlin Smith (Scout): 5th grader; sister to Devon; brother died in a school shooting; mother died of cancer; has Asberger's; working with feelings, emotions, friendship, and closure; excellent artist
Devon Joseph Smith (Jem): killed in middle school shooting; brother to Caitlin; boy scout trying to make Eagle Scout
Dad (Atticus): dad to Caitlin and Devon; wife died of cancer; having a very hard time finding closure after Devon's death; helps Caitlin finish Devon's wood chest to find closure
Mrs. Brooks: Caitlin's counselor at school; helps her work with feelings, emotions, manners, friendships, and closure
Michael Schneider: 1st grader; Caitlin's first friend; son of teacher killed in school shooting
Emma: 5th grade classmate of Caitlin; starts to become a friend of Caitlin's
Josh: 5th grade bully; cousin of the school shooter

Caitlin has Asberger's and is struggling her feelings regarding her brother's recent death in a school shooting.

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