Mockingbird
Mockingbird

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Annotation: Ten-year-old Caitlin, who has Asperger's Syndrome, struggles to understand emotions, show empathy, and make friends at school, while at home she seeks closure by working on a project with her father.
Catalog Number: #41039
Format: Perma-Bound Edition
All Formats: Search
Common Core/STEAM: Common Core Common Core
Publisher: Penguin
Copyright Date: 2010
Edition Date: 2011
Pages: 235 pages
Availability: Available
ISBN: Publisher: 0-14-241775-0 Perma-Bound: 0-605-40978-1
ISBN 13: Publisher: 978-0-14-241775-1 Perma-Bound: 978-0-605-40978-1
Dewey: Fic
LCCN: 2009006741
Dimensions: 20 cm.
Language: English
Reviews:
ALA Booklist
Ten-year-old Caitlyn hates recess, with all its noise and chaos, and her kind, patient counselor, Mrs. Brook, helps her to understand the reasons behind her discomfort, while offering advice about how to cope with her Asberger's Syndrome, make friends, and deal with her grief over her older brother's death in a recent school shooting. She eschews group projects in class, claiming that she doesn't need to learn how to get along with others, but solitude is neither good for her or her grieving father, and when Caitlyn hears the term closure, she turns to her one trusty friend, her dictionary, and sets out on a mission to find it for both of them. Along the way, Caitlyn makes many missteps, but eventually she does achieve the long-sought closure with great finesse, which is another of her favorite vocabulary words. Allusions to Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird, the portrayal of a whole community's healing process, and the sharp insights into Caitlyn's behavior enhance this fine addition to the recent group of books with narrators with autism and Asbergers.
Horn Book
This volume covers standard topics including habitat, young, homes, and defense. Focus on animal sounds is not as strong as the series title would suggest (though the concluding "Sound Check" charts help by summarizing scientific findings about the meaning of songs and calls). Large labeled photos, informative fact boxes, and clean design help enhance the bland main text. Reading list. Glos., ind.
Kirkus Reviews
This heartbreaking story is delivered in the straightforward, often funny voice of a fifth-grade girl with Asperger's syndrome, who is frustrated by her inability to put herself in someone else's shoes. Caitlin's counselor, Mrs. Brook, tries to teach her how to empathize, but Caitlin is used to depending on her big brother Devon for guidance on such matters. Tragically, Devon has been killed in a school shooting. Caitlin, her dad and her schoolmates try to cope, and it is the deep grief they all share that ultimately helps Caitlin get to empathy. As readers celebrate this milestone with Caitlin, they realize that they too have been developing empathy by walking a while in her shoes, experiencing the distinctive way that she sees and interacts with the world. Erskine draws directly and indirectly on To Kill a Mockingbird and riffs on its central theme: The destruction of an innocent is perhaps both the deepest kind of psychosocial wound a community can face and its greatest opportunity for psychological and spiritual growth. (Fiction. 8-12)
School Library Journal
Gr 46 From inside Caitlin's head, readers see the very personal aftermath of a middle school shooting that took the life of the older brother she adored. Caitlin is a bright fifth grader and a gifted artist. She also has Asperger's syndrome, and her brother, Devon, was the one who helped her interpret the world. Now she has only her father, a widower who is grieving anew and whose ability to relate to his daughter is limited. A compassionate school counselor works with her, trying to teach her the social skills that are so difficult for her. Through her own efforts and her therapy sessions, she begins to come to terms with her loss and makes her first, tentative steps toward friendship. Caitlin's thought processes, including her own brand of logic, are made remarkably clear. The longer readers spend in the child's world, the more understandable her entirely literal and dispassionate interpretations are. Marred slightly by the portrayal of Devon as a perfect being, this is nonetheless a valuable book. After getting to know Caitlin, young people's tendencies to label those around them as either "normal" or "weird" will seem as simplistic and inadequate a system as it truly is. Faith Brautigam, Gail Borden Public Library, Elgin, IL
Starred Review for Publishers Weekly

Ten-year-old Caitlin Smith has Asperger's syndrome, which is why she is processing a horrific event differently than everyone else in her small Virginia town. As the result of a school shooting, her beloved brother, Devon, and two others are dead. Caitlin's mother is also dead, lost to cancer when Caitlin was just three. She addresses these losses matter-of-factly; her lack of tact is especially hard on her father, a kind man who is falling apart. Over the course of the story, Caitlin, who like many with Asperger's has incredible brainpower but few social skills, must learn empathy. She narrates—a risky choice that mostly works. Her Amelia Bedelia–like misunderstandings of figurative language provide much needed moments of levity, and her extreme conscientiousness is endearing. Erskine (Quaking) works in powerful imagery throughout—Devon's unfinished Eagle Scout project was a wooden chest, and for Caitlin, it's entwined with the irreparable bullet wound in Devon's chest. Although an author's note links the novel with the 2007 tragedy at Virginia Tech, this novel is not about violence as much as about the ways in which a wounded community heals. Ages 10–up. (Apr.)

Voice of Youth Advocates
Ten-year-old Caitlin has AspergerÆs syndrome, a developmental disorder that makes it difficult for her to socialize and communicate effectively with others. Unable to accurately read othersÆ emotions through their behavior and body language, she relies on a facial expressions chart and the guidance of her older brother Devon to navigate social situations. As the novel opens, Caitlin and her father are dealing with the aftermath of DevonÆs death in a random school shooting. Although she misses her brotherÆs advice and wishes life could be as it was, Caitlin is unable to understand her fatherÆs grief--that is, until she reads the word "closure" in her beloved dictionary and decides that this is what she and her father need. Author Kathryn Erskine (Quaking, Philomel, 2007, YALSA Top Ten Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers) was inspired to write Mockingbird by the shootings at nearby Virginia Tech University in 2007. She wisely chose to have Caitlin narrate her own story, saving it from becoming too didactic or sentimental. Although teens may not initially understand CaitlinÆs seemingly unemotional acceptance of tragedy and her literal interpretation of events, they will soon become caught up in her search for closure and cheer for her as she discovers herself capable of friendship, love, and empathy. A good choice for supplementary reading in a high school psychology class, Mockingbird will also appeal to book groups for middle and high schoolers; siblings and friends of young people with AspergerÆs and other developmental disorders; and middle school students who enjoy thoughtful characters and a good story.ùLeah Sparks.
Word Count: 36,466
Reading Level: 3.6
Interest Level: 5-9
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 3.6 / points: 5.0 / quiz: 136100 / grade: Middle Grades
Reading Counts!: reading level:2.0 / points:11.0 / quiz:Q49185
Lexile: 630L
Guided Reading Level: W
Fountas & Pinnell: W

THE NATIONAL BOOK AWARD WINNER and ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT NOVELS OF OUR TIME FOR YOUNG READERS

Caitlin has Asperger's. The world according to her is black and white; anything in between is confusing. Before, when things got confusing, Caitlin went to her older brother, Devon, for help. But Devon was killed in a school shooting, and Caitlin's dad is so distraught that he is just not helpful. Caitlin wants everything to go back to the way things were, but she doesn't know how to do that. Then she comes across the word closure--and she realizes this is what she needs. And in her search for it, Caitlin discovers that the world may not be so black and white after all.

"Powerful."--Publishers Weekly

"A strong and complex character study."--The Horn Book

"Allusions to Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird, the portrayal of a whole community's healing process, and the sharp insights into Caitlyn's behavior enhance this fine addition to the recent group of books with narrators with autism and Asbergers."--Booklist


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