|Notable Books for Children List|
Erskine, K. (2010). Mockingbird. New York, NY: Scholastic Inc.
What I have written here does not do this book justice. It is a fantastic book that allows the reader to see what is going on in the mind of someone who has something like Asperger's Syndrome. I loved this book. I considered myself knowledgeable about many differences that students have. But this book is so powerful, I believe that every teacher should read it to get a real sense of the daily life challenges that some students face and what might be going on in thier mind.
The story begins with the realization that Caitlyn and her dad are suffering the loss of Caitlyn's brother. We quickly find out that something is different about Caitlyn. She categorizes everything. For instance, she knows she needs to Look At The Person, or she knows that life is different now beginning with The Day Our Life Fell Apart.
Caitlyn has Asperger's Syndrome and not only has to learn to how to behave in a more "appropriate" way, but she also has to learn to deal with the loss of her brother. She doesn't really have the help of her father who is swallowed up in his own grief.
Caitlyn spends a lot of time in school with her counselor, Mrs. Brook. She is trying to learn to have empathy for others. She doesn't see how others feel as a result of some of her behaviors or lack of manners. She is also trying to figure out why she feels so horrible. She doesn't really get the connection with loosing her brother that she was very close to.
Caitlyn makes friends on the playground with Michael, whose mother was killed in the same school shooting. She really doesn't want to lose this new friend because of her behavior. She wants to have empathy. Caitlyn is very smart. She hears the word "closure" and looks it up in the dictionary. This is what she needs. This is what Michael needs. This is what her dad needs too.
Caitlyn keeps working on her Your Manners chart. She continues to try to have empathy. And she continues to try to find out how to obtain this closure.
Caitlyn forces the issue that she and her dad need to finish her brother's Eagle Scout project, a trunk, and present it to the junior high school where this shooting occurred. This act not only ends up bringing closure to Caitlyn and her father but to the whole community, including Michael.
1) The dialogue that Caitlyn has going on in her head is astounding. All her very different behaviors have real meaning behind them. For instance, sometimes she flaps her hands. That is because it helps to slow down the world around her when things get too confusing for her.
2) I also like the language that the author uses to categorize all of Caitlyn's thoughts. It helps the reader realize that these are "things" to Caitlyn, not really behaviors. (Look At The Person, Get It, etc.)