Thursday, March 31, 2011

Middle Grade Book Review: Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine

About The Book:  Caitlin Smith’s unusual world has suddenly become even more confusing. Her older brother has been killed, and she is left to figure out how to go on, helped by her bereft father and a school counselor. The whole community is trying to make sense of the tragedy, but closure, so elusive for everyone, is especially hard for a girl with Asperger’s syndrome. (BookPage)

 First Line: "It looks like a one-winged bird crouching in the corner of our living room."

One Great Line: "Her cheeks puff up and her eyes squish and water comes out of them and her face looks a little bit like a sponge." (171)

What The Kids Are Saying:
"This book is wonderful!!! It touched my heart, and the character Caitlin fascinates me. I love how despite the fact that Caitlin had Aspergers and her father practically fell apart, she didn’t give up in helping her father. I also liked how Caitlin helped others besides her father and herself just by offering them gummy worms or saying hello. This shows that we can all make a difference in someone’s life by saying hello or offering them some candy. This book was fantastic!!!" (The BooK Beat)

What Others Are Saying:
"[A] fine addition to the recent group of books with autistic narrators." --Booklist 
"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 
"Fascinating characters." --Los Angeles Times

What I Thought: After I had read the last page it took awhile to re-enter my own body and mind because Erskine has done such a powerful job of transporting her readers inside the mind of Caitlin. I noticed that for the most part I was rarely told how someone felt until after Caitlin figured it out. Emotions were demonstrated through action, something we as writers are always striving for, to show not tell. Erskine also uses capitals for emphasis so the reader internalizes the words or phrases like Caitlin does.  A great example of the use of capitals for emphasis is on page 44, when Caitlin is telling Mrs. Brooks that she doesn't like "very outgoing. Or efFUSive. Or EXtroverted. Or greGARious. Or any of those words that mean their loudness fills up my ears and hurts and their face and waving arms invade my Personal Space and their constant talking sucks all the air out of the room until I think I'm going to choke." (44)
My Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥
Rating Key:
♥         Couldn't finish the book, wouldn't even give it to my worst enemy.
♥♥       Read most of it but had to skim through slow parts.
♥♥♥     Solid book with a few holes in the plot or inconsistencies, pacing issues.
♥♥♥♥   Great premise, plot and pace. Writing is engaging with a strong voice.
♥♥♥♥♥ Totally awesome ride, tell everyone to read it, give me some more.
Click Here For Upcoming Events
About The Author:  Kathryn Erskine

Who: Born in the Netherland, Erskine traveled and spent many of her younger years in Scotland. Erskine was a lawyer for many years before she decided she wanted to write. She now lives in Virginia. See more here.

How: "The characters always come first for me. They have conversations in my head and whole scenes take place. The plot is often hard to pin down." Interview here.

Challenges: "I am an overwriter. In revision, what I have to figure out is what to cut. There were some scenes that didn't need to be there."  About revising: "(Heavy sigh) I like seeing the story improve. I like getting into a scene and finally managing to make it have the impact I want it to have." -Publishers Weekly

Where did the inspiration for MOCKINGBIRD come from? Erkine's own daughter has Aspergers. "Because Asperger’s is so much a part of my life, I thought it might be too ordinary, but others who don’t live with it every day assured me that it was something quite different and special. People seem so touched that I think there must be something special about it." She did extensive research about Asperger Syndrome.  -BookTalk

New Projects: "I'm working on a novel set in Virginia in the early 1970s. It was about one thing but it's morphing. I'm also working on a novel set in the Middle Ages and I have something going that is contemporary, dealing with the economic downturn." -Publishers Weekly
Her first book published in 2007
Newest book coming out June 2011

Have you read any of her books? What did you think?
Also, it's not too late to enter my teacher gift card contest
Winners will be announced on Sunday!!

Check out these Bookinista Reviews!



  1. wow, i'm in grade.6 and i read this book, and honestly it is the best and most moving book i have ever read. I got this book from my school book fair, and just by reading the title Mockingbird, and reading the back, made me want to buy it, great job to the author Katherine Erskine, i really enjoyed this book.

  2. Hi I Just Wanted to Say I Loved Your Book It Touched Me a lot <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 I Would reccomend it to other kids !
    -Jennifer 11

  3. Loved the book! I read it for the battle of the books.

  4. Great i just have 1 ? where is the second one lol

  5. What an excellent review! We reviewed this book on our blog a while back and we loved the book! What a great book for everyone to read to learn more about Aspergers. Great information about the author as well. Thanks for sharing. :)


I would love to hear from you!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...