2010 NBA Winner: Mockingbird

January 30th, 2011 Posted in 52 Books in one year challenge, Award-Winning, Fiction, Middle Grade
Kathryn Erskine's Mockingbird

I’m always curious about books that earn major awards as hype and quality don’t always overlap. With Mockingbird, I  immediately saw why it won the 2010 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature. The novel tackles several difficult subjects—Asperger’s Syndrome, school shootings—and blends them into a moving story. Writing about these subjects in a way appropriate for middle grade readers is impressive. The ending is fairly pat, but it makes sense for the intended audience and honestly: who doesn’t like a reassuring (if not happy) ending?

I’ve read The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime by Mark Haddon and, inevitably, I thought of it while reading Mockingbird. Both books are told from a narrator unable to relate to the people around them, and both authors use a disability as a way to shine light on delicate emotional situations.

Caitlin grows throughout Mockingbird, learning words like “closure” and “empathy” as she tries to relate to the people around her. While this can be a tad heavy-handed, it works. This would be an excellent book to use to teach the concept of metaphors to younger readers. For example, Caitlin prefers to draw in black and white, since colors muddle the world. Yet by the end of the story she starts using colors since she understands the world is nuanced and she can’t hide her head under couch cushions when facing problems.

Read by: Kelly

Title: Mockingbird
Author: Kathryn Erskine
Read: January 2011
Source: Public Library

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